A farmer who gave three orphaned
fox cubs a children's toy was shocked when the youngsters welcomed the cuddly animal as their surrogate mother.The father of two found the trio whimpering
and shivering at the bottom of his garden in a hole under his shed.With no sign of their parents, he brought the starving
cubs into his family home and gave them a stuffed fox belonging to his three-year-old daughter.
The cubs immediately bonded with the furry toy and have been inseparable
from their new 'mum', even refusing to go to sleep at night without it in their basket.The farmer, from Epsom, in Surrey, insisted on giving staff at Wildlife Aid, in Leatherhead, the toy when he gave them the cubs to be released back into the wild.
Since they were found last month the cubs have gained weight and even try to offer food to their new mum, who has been named Flo, after the red head singer, Florence Welch.Founder of the rescue centre Simon Cowell said: 'We were quite surprised at first that a farmer would try and save the lives of three little foxes.What was really unusual was the cubs seemed to believe the stuffed animal was their mother and would not leave her side.
When it came to dinner time they would leave some food and push the bowl towards Flo. It seemed like they couldn't understand why she wasn't eating.At first we couldn't figure out why they made so much noise when it was time for them to go to sleep, but it was because someone had accidentally taken the toy from their basket.After we realised, we put it back and they nodded right off. When orphaned animals are brought in we normally give them a stuffed
toy for a bit of security but we didn't in this case because they already had a bond with Flo.
They are looking a lot healthier than when they were first brought in and it is fantastic
to see them doing so well.About 70 per cent of wild fox cubs don't make it to their first birthday but this trio are having a great time." He added that the cubs will eventually be wean
ed off the toy and released into the wild around July.