The piercing black eyes and snow-white coat of the Arctic Fox are fine examples of nature's beauty. But for this species of fox, it's a temporary look that is best viewed during the coldest time of year.
"Right now he's displaying his full winter coat" Steven Burns told Newsline 9. Burns is zookeeper at Wildwood Park and Zoo, 1800 South Central Avenue, Marshfield. His duties include caring for Blizzard, an Arctic Fox brought to the zoo in 2012, and Shadow, a Gray Fox who shares the habitat.
Though during the winter Blizzard and Shadow look nothing alike, in a few weeks time it may be difficult to tell them apart.
"He actually changes coat colors depending on the season. Right now he's displaying his full winter coat. Around spring, he'll start shedding it out and go back to a gray color" Burns said of the Arctic Fox.
Burns is a University of Wisconsin--Stevens Point graduate and says the coat on the Arctic Fox is warm enough to withstand temperatures near -60. Perfect for an animal that roams northern climates in northern Canada, Russia and Scandinavia.
"The Arctic Fox is more of a carnivore. Their hunting strategy is to listen and pounce. They do it in a natural hunting habitat to break through the top layer of the snow and ambush prey from above." Burns said.
Burns says the behaviors these animals show are worth a look and keep his job interesting.
"Working with these animals day after day, you really start to see their personalities" Burns said.
And those are traits, unlike their appearance, that stay the same no matter what time of year.
Admission to Wildwood Park and Zoo in Marshfield is free. It is open between January and May 3rd Monday through Saturday 7:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and Sundays 7:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. for more information visit http://ci.marshfield.wi.us/parksrec/?id=11974.