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Chicago’s ‘Mystery Animal’ Turns Out to be Rare White Fox

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Flickr RF, Getty Images

People living in and around the Austin neighborhood on Chicago’s West Side have been calling in reports for weeks about what they thought was a stray dog, or maybe even a coyote. Turns out, it wasn’t either of them.

No, the mystery creature has been identified by Chicago Animal Care & Control¬†as a fox. Not just any fox, but one that has a genetic anomaly called “leucism.” Leucism is different from albibism¬†in that leucism involves a partial change of pigment, rather than a full pigment change brought about by albinism.

From UPI:

“It’s not very common at all,” Nicky Strahl of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources told WLS-TV.

Strahl said the Chicago animal is the first leucistic fox she has ever seen.

“It had a genetic abnormality that creates different colorations, different patterns than what you’d normally see,” Strahl said.

Chicago Animal Care and Control officials said the fox is a 5-month-old pet that escaped. The department said the fox’s owner has a state permit for the exotic pet, which is not considered dangerous.

The animal’s owner is helping officers with their efforts to safely capture the fox, which was last seen during the weekend sitting on a burned-out house.

If you’re thinking “Wait, this was someone’s pet?” You’re not alone. However, I must admit that after doing some research, they seem pretty cool to have around the house:

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Wait…$8,000 for one? Seriously?

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