Close Encounters Man vs. Nature

Facebook foxes capture hearts of employees

Furry critters raise a family on the company campus and become unofficial mascots; of course, they get their own FB page

FBfox:Josh Frankel

Photo by Josh Frankel

Here’s a story animal lovers who use Facebook are sure to “like.”

It’s about a couple of gray foxes that moved onto Facebook headquarters in Menlo Park, California, and raised a family in the sprawling campus Zen garden.

The three growing pups and their shenanigans have livened up an already stimulating work atmosphere, and added a cuteness factor that simply does not exist at most other businesses.

FB Fox Zuxk:BOZ

Facebook Chairman Mark Zuckerberg photographs a fox outside his office window. Photo by Bertha Coombs

While the family has grown to the point where it has dispersed from the garden, the foxes still regard the Facebook campus as home and sightings remain frequent as the animals scurry up trees, stroll on sidewalks, rest on furniture, and climb onto awnings to cat nap above the bustle of human traffic.

The animals are so beloved that the company has set up a Facebook page so employees can share photos and clips of the fuzzy animals.

(We’ve pulled a short sampling to illustrate this story, and tried to include appropriate credits.)

fbfoxjeffreyFerland

Photo by Jeffrey Ferland

A photo posted Thursday showed Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg using his phone to capture an image of a small fox outside the window of his office (posted above). The photo, under the title “FB Fox crashes Zuck’s meeting,” on Friday morning had been liked by more than 3,600 people.

Employees have adopted such a respectful attitude toward the foxes—no chasing or feeding—that the National Wildlife Federation recently presented Facebook with a “Certified Wildlife Habitat” plaque, which is proudly displayed in the Zen garden.

Said NWF naturalist David Mizewski in a blog post about the foxes’ presence on the campus:

foxbabies:bieber

Photo by Robert Bieber

“The Facebook foxes are a perfect symbol of the fact that the natural world isn’t just in faraway, exotic places. It’s all around us, sometimes literally right outside our doors. Good stewardship of wildlife habitat in our cities and towns means that all it takes to have amazing animal encounters is to simply get outdoors.”

The NWF’s Beth Pratt, who wrote the post, stated that Facebook called in a fox expert to give a presentation to the staff, so it could coexist with the animals in a manner that allows them to remain wild “and that this experience didn’t deteriorate into a petting zoo or the foxes receiving handouts from the ice cream stand.”

Alexis Smith, who started the FB Fox page, told Pratt: “I loved how the foxes brought everyone together—that people cared that the animals made their home on our campus and that they merited respect from everyone.”

The FB Fox page is growing a huge audience, having increased from 17,000 likes a week ago to more than 57,000.

It is hoped, and expected, that the adult foxes will return to the Zen garden next year, to raise another family.

To be sure, among animal lovers, there’s nothing to “dislike” about this story.