Some foxes followed the tourists around the enclosure, pulling at their clothes and begging for treats. These aggressive begging and fighting behaviors are a symptom of overcrowding, and living in a mid-to-high-stress environment, Rob Laidlaw, executive director of Zoocheck, a wildlife protection agency, told The Dodo.
In Japan, foxes primarily inhabit sparsely populated mountainous areas, or the outskirts of villages. They do not naturally come into contact with humans or, for the most part, other foxes, he said.
But with over 100 foxes crammed in such a small fenced-in space, competition is bound to arise between the naturally territorial animals.
“You look at these 100 animals in less than half an acre, and it’s not even set up very well,” Laidlaw told The Dodo. “It’s barren — there are some furnishings, but it’s grossly overcrowded.”
“If you look at how they live in nature, you can occasionally find them in fairly intense concentrations — but those concentrations are still small,” Laidlaw said. “In the wild, I’ve seen six foxes living close to each other, but I don’t think you see more than that. You usually see them alone, and they have fairly expansive home ranges.”