A ceremonial send-off was held on Naval Base Coronado for an endangered California Channel Island fox pup rescued by Navy personnel on San Clemente Island, Navy officials announced Tuesday.
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The three-month-old fox, nicknamed "Garth," was handed over to the Santa Barbara Zoo Monday. He was previously cared for by Navy biologists because he was abandoned by his parents and did not learn basic survival skills and could not be released back into the wild, according to Navy officials.
San Clemente Island is the critically endangered Channel Island fox's natural habitat. It is also the Navy's largest live fire training range in the continental United States.
Melissa Booker, a Navy wildlife biologist for San Clemente Island, said the Navy had taken precautions to preserve the island's natural habitat and maintain a safe environment for its inhabitants.
"People have visions of bombardment ranges, but that is not it at all," Booker said. "In fact, we have more foxes on the island than we ever have before, even though the tempo of training has increased."
The Santa Barbara Zoo was the best place for Garth since it already had a Channel Island fox enclosure along with an outreach and education program that will use the endangered animal to help teach about conservation, Booker said.
The Navy coordinated the transfer with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the California Department of Fish and Game, Booker said.
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