FARGO — The Red River Zoo has announced the death of its beloved gray fox, Esther, a notably old member of her species that lived at the Fargo zoo for more than a decade.

At 11 years, 7 months old, Esther was one of the oldest gray foxes in North America. Red River Zoo / Special to The Forum
At 11 years, 7 months old, Esther was one of the oldest gray foxes in North America. Red River Zoo / Special to The Forum

The zoo announced Esther's passing Wednesday evening on their Facebook page.

In a written statement to The Forum, zoo staff said: "At 11 years, 7 months old, Esther was one of the oldest gray foxes in North America. The zoo says Esther began showing signs of age this July and was given the best care to make sure she was comfortable until the end.

"Esther was taken in from the wild as a young kit after being mistaken as a kitten. After being properly identified as a fox, Esther was rescued by the zoo and was unable to be returned to the wild. She arrived at the Red River Zoo Sept. 22, 2008, where she had an off-exhibit home and was moved into her new exhibit space in 2011.

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Red River Zoo workers said Esther enjoyed peanut butter, catching birds and mice, tunneling through her log, napping and "chatting" with visitors and staff. Red River Zoo / Special to The Forum
Red River Zoo workers said Esther enjoyed peanut butter, catching birds and mice, tunneling through her log, napping and "chatting" with visitors and staff. Red River Zoo / Special to The Forum

"Esther loved peanut butter, catching birds and mice, tunneling through her log, napping and 'chatting' with visitors and staff. Zoo caretaking staff say she had all the charm and spunk of a wild animal and was given amazing care with proper nutrition, medical care and enrichment. She served as an important ambassador for wild animals and helped in teaching people the importance of wildlife and their habitats.

"Her keepers, trainers, other staff and visitors will miss spending time caring for and visiting her, but are so thankful for her and the impact she has had on so many people.

"She will be dearly missed."