World-first dog-fox hybrid is now at the centre of a government controversy

World-first dog-fox hybrid is now at the centre of a government controversy

Conservationist Flávia Ferrari said the dogxim was healthy when she was transferred to a local zoo

Flávia Ferrari

No sooner had the world learned of the existence of a unique fox-dog hybrid than we were told the poor animal had died.

Brazil’s government has now launched an official investigation into the sudden and unexplained death of the creature, known as a “dogxim”, after its keepers failed to report the incident.

The pointy-eared pooch, who was female, lived at a zoo in the Brazilian municipality of Santa Maria following her discovery in January 2021.

The dogxim was healthy when she was taken to the São Braz Mantenedouro conservation centre in November of that same year. However, when scientists who studied and cared for the canine asked for photos of her last month, they were told she had died earlier this year, The Telegraphreports.

As a result, the Secretariat of Environment and Infrastructure (SEMA) in the southern state of Rio Grande do Sul, where the animal was treated and housed, has announced that it will look into the circumstances surrounding her death.

The pup was found after being hit by a car and taken to a veterinary hospital, where staff were unable to determine whether she was a dog or a fox.

Experts then conducted genetic testing which revealed that the four-legged patient had 76 chromosomes – a combination of the 74 chromosomes of a fox and the 78 chromosomes of a dog.

This meant that the dogxim – who had a Pampas fox mother and domestic dog father – was the first known hybrid of her kind.

And whilst the canine had no known life expectancy owing to her uniqueness, both Pampas foxes and dogs can live for well over 10 years, so it's probable she’d have had a lot more time on her biological clock.

“We are very sad about her death, especially because we do not have the answers about the exact date and the cause of her death,” Dr Rafael Kretschmer, of the Universidade Federal de Pelotas, who ran the genetic analysis of the dogxim, told the Telegraph.

“We only discovered that she died because I called Mantenedouro São Braz to request some recent photos of the hybrid. They informed me that she died approximately six months ago. They did not answer me about the exact date and cause of her death.”

Flávia Ferrari, a conservationist who worked with the animal during her recovery, added: “When she left she was healthy, there were no indications of any health problems. Health check-ups were carried out periodically, including blood tests.”

Mantenedouro São Braz didn't respond to requests for comment.

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