Is he a sly little fox?
Not really. He was abandoned as a pup and the Navy took him in. Shy? Certainly not – he's personable enough to act as an ambassador at his new home, the Santa Barbara Zoo.
So who is he? He's Garth, a 3-month-old island fox who passed through North Island Naval Air Station Monday in transit from his old home, San Clemente Island, which is part of Naval Base Coronado.
The fox is moving from the island, where the Navy maintains its live-fire range, to the zoo, which maintains a population of foxes like him.
Island foxes – smaller than house cats and if they're like Garth, bouncy and amiable like puppies – live on islands like San Clemente and the other Channel Islands. The petite fox is the biggest of the mammals at the site, according to Navy Cmdr. Walt Glenn.
Navy officials dubbed this fox Garth in a nod to another San Clemente island fox named Wayne, a la “Wayne's World,” the old Saturday Night Live skit.
He's going to Santa Barbara and not the San Diego Zoo because the Navy has an existing relationship with the Santa Barbara facility. That zoo has housed island foxes, a protected species, since 1999.
The zoo in the central California coastal community already has foxes from San Clemente Island, though they are aging, making it a good time for a new addition.
Garth will be visible in the central California community if you plan on visiting though. He's quite tame, because he has been hand-reared, so the plan is to walk him on a leash to interact with zoo visitors, officials said.