Maribel Sotelo bought what she thought was a cute puppy from a small shop in central Lima in Peru, but the animal turned out to be an Andean fox, with a pointed head, bushy tail, thin legs and prominent ears.
The family pet, named RunRun, initially played happily with other dogs in the neighborhood, but signs emerged that something wasn’t quite right as he got older. He didn’t look or act like a dog.
RunRun began to chase neighborhood chickens and ducks to kill or eat them, provoking anger in the neighborhood.
“We thought he was a breed because he was like a wolf,” Sotelo told Reuters. She bought the animal for about 50 soles (about $12.50).
“About a month ago, a woman from around here said that he ate three of her guinea pigs,” Sotelo said. She had to pay the owner for the dead animals.
A few days ago, the fox ran away from home. Officials of the state National Forest and Wildlife Service (SERFOR) are looking for the fox to take him to an animal shelter or zoo.
Walter Silva, a veterinarian at SERFOR, said that traffickers steal many wild animals from Amazonian areas such as Ucayali, Madre de Dios and Loreto. They then illegally sell the animals in Lima.
Many animals are captured as babies, Silva said. Traffickers kill the parents, take their babies and sell them at informal markets, he added.
Silva said SERFOR has carried out 128 interventions this year to confiscate wild animals in Lima. The illegal trade in wild animals is a crime in Peru with penalties of between three to five years in prison, Silva said.
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