CORAL THE FOX FINDS SANCTUARY IN KEY LARGO

Coral inside her play area with Nicole Navarro, Pawsitive Beginnings Inc. founder who gave the black fox a sanctuary at her Key Largo residence. JIM McCARTHY/Keys Weekly

There’s a new “Coral” to go with “Reef” in Key Largo, and they aren’t found in the water. 

At Nicole Navarro’s residence, two young foxes are buzzing around as they nip at each other, play ball and run around inside a spacious pen. She admits they can be a handful at times as they zip around and find trouble, but she also finds solace knowing two furry creatures are safe from being turned into fur. 

In May, Navarro retrieved a 6-week-old fox, which she later named Reef, from a Minnesota fur farm. Reef’s fur was deemed “no good” to fur farmers with a missing tail tip and toes on his front right paw. They also didn’t see a need for Coral’s fur. The female fox was rescued from the farm about a month later and brought to the Keys by Navarro. 

Coral has a birth defect that left her without the joint that connects her femur to her hip and the tip of her tail. Navarro said Save A Fox in Minnesota and 101 Paws and Claws, located in Central Florida, helped get Coral and other young foxes out of the fur farm to a sanctuary. 

Foxes deemed undesirable, meaning their fur is not worth much, are killed to make room for new fox pups being born. Navarro said a few rescues like Save a Fox Rescue in Minnesota have agreements with fur farmers to go in quickly and save those that otherwise would be destroyed.

“It certainly takes a village to rescue, and I’m grateful my village consists of some women that will literally do anything to save these animals,” Navarro said. 

Navarro was first introduced to foxes while volunteering at the Monroe County Sheriff’s Animal Farm in 2018. Today, she’s given six foxes once on the chopping block at a Minnesota fur farm a safe home. 

Reef is about a month older than Coral. Navarro said the two babies never knew anything aside from a gentle human touch since they were rescued so young. Those who follow Pawsitive Beginnings Inc. on Instagram and Facebook can see these two energetic foxes running around and finding mischief. 

Reef and Coral can often be found lounging in front of the air conditioning or napping on her bed. A fancy new enclosure is a fenced in patio, as Navarro said she tends to spend more time out there than they do. 

“Reef is a sassy young teenager who, as you all have seen, gets himself into all sorts of mischief,” she said. “Coral is the sweetest fox and loves to cuddle and give kisses on the nose.”

Navarro added that the mothers of Coral and Reef’ rejected them, as they both had signs of physical trauma. Reef recently recovered from surgery to remove an odd growing toe nail. Coral continues to battle a food borne illness, known as clostridium perfringens. 

“She was either given bad meat prior to her arrival here or she contracted it at the fur farm,” Navarro said. “It went undetected prior to her arrival here. So she’s been sick here for a while. We have been at the vet a lot for outpatient therapy. She’s been getting subcutaneous fluids.”

Navarro added that it’s a whole new ballgame raising the likes of Coral and Reef and taking care of older foxes in Louie, Libby, Penny and Jasper. While it can be stressful at times with surgeries, illnesses and sleepless nights, Navarro said she would not trade it for anything. 

Visit pawsitivebeginnings.org to learn more about Navarro’s rescued foxes and captive bred foxes.

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Jim McCarthy is a Western New Yorkers who escaped the snow and frigid temperatures for warm living by the water. A former crime & court reporter and city editor for two Western New York newspapers, Jim has been honing his craft since he graduated from St. Bonaventure University in 2014. In his 3-plus years in the Keys, Jim has enjoyed connecting with the community. “One of my college professors would always preach to be curious,” he said. “Behind every person is a story that’s unique to them, and one worth telling. As writers, we are the ones who paint the pictures in the readers minds of the emotions, the struggles and the triumphs.” Jim is past president of the Key Largo Sunset Rotary Club, which is composed of energetic members who serve the community’s youth and older populations. Jim is a sports fanatic who loves to watch football, mixed martial arts and golf. He loves to hit the links and play some softball with his Make A Play team. He also enjoys time with family and his new baby boy, Lucas, who arrived Oct. 4, 2022.