Dec. 21 (UPI) -- The owner of a New York state petting zoo said an escaped Arctic fox mix that escaped two weeks ago has been spotted in the area.
Tammy Drost, owner of Michael's Farm in West Saugerties, said the Arctic fox/ranch fox mix, Jasper, escaped from the property Dec. 6 and sightings have since been reported in Margaretville, Washingtonville and even across the Pennsylvania border.
Drost said the most recent reported sighting was this week near the In The Sticks deli in West Saugerties.
"My foxes are the only animal I currently have that were not 'rescues,'" Drost told Hudson Valley One.
"I have owned ranch foxes for almost six years now. Ranch foxes are a domesticated breed that are legal to own in New York for farming purposes. To me, they are no different from the various dogs I have taken in -- they are happy, healthy and love people. They are never hungry or thirsty like their wild counterparts. It is not a bad life, just different."
Drost said 5-year-old Jasper is not afraid of humans and she is worried his lack of fear will be misinterpreted as rabies. She cautioned that despite the animal's friendliness, it should not be picked up by strangers.
"I am so thankful for those who know me and some who don't who are trying to help me find Jasper ... In a world where it seems people have forgotten empathy, I am teaching children [via my petting zoo] that even the smallest animals deserve affection and respect," she said.