Monday, April 04, 2016

Meet an Island Fox Ambassador - Tigran Nahabedian

While Channel Island foxes have made a remarkable recovery from near extinction (US Fish and Wildlife Announces Recovery of Island Fox), they continue to be rare animals living in small island ecosystems. To survive into the future island foxes need all of us looking out for them.

Tigran Nahabedian has become an active Island Fox Ambassador, helping to spread information about the island fox and working to restore island habitat. Tigran, how did you get interested in the island fox?

Tigran Nahabedian and parents

photo courtesy of Kevin Schafer
I first met the Channel Island fox when I was 5 years old. I took an Island Packers boat to Santa Cruz Island; that will always be a special trip for me because it was on that trip I earned my first Junior Ranger Badge. Very soon after we arrived I saw an island fox resting among some old farming machinery. I thought he was so small and really cute. The island fox is my favorite animal in the National Parks.
The Channel Island fox lives on six of the eight California Islands and it is the only carnivore that occurs only in California and nowhere else. The island fox evolved from the grey fox, but it has fewer tail vertebrae, a shorter tail and is much smaller than the grey fox. They are significantly smaller than most house cats! 
The island fox subspecies on the Northern Channel Islands and Catalina are [currently] listed as endangered species under the Endangered Species Act. (Why the island fox became endangered) ...This is the fastest recovery of a mammal under the Endangered Species Act, but it is not all good news because there has been a significant population decline on San Nicholas because of long term drought conditions and frail health of the foxes and the island vegetation.
Tigran and his mother showing an eagle radio transmitter to other children.
I got to help the island fox by working at a booth with the Friends of the Island Fox at the Santa Barbara Zoo for Channel Islands Fox Awareness Day. I spoke to almost 500 people about the fox. I answered questions about the island fox, the Channel Islands, Junior Ranger Badges, Buddy Bison and the eagles at the Channel Islands. This was really special to me because I was able to speak to many children about the fox and the Channel Islands. 
Very few of the children I spoke to have been to the Channel Islands so the zoo was a great place for them to connect to the island fox. If you are near Santa Barbara or coming for a visit you can meet Beau at the Santa Barbara Zoo, he was abandoned as a pup and the US Navy rescued him and brought him to the zoo. He is so cute!
 You can help the Channel Island fox too. You can write reports on the Channel Island fox for your school projects to raise awareness of the fox. You can also donate funds to help the Channel Island fox recovery. You could sell Valentine's Day grams, used books, have a bake sale or lemonade sale, wash cars or you could use some of your allowance from chores and donate the money at or You can also visit the Santa Barbara Zoo, the Channel Islands National Park or another event put on by the Friends of the Island Fox and buy one of the really cool Friends of the Island Fox T-shirts. - TIGRAN

Friends of the Island Fox T-shirts come in adult sizes small - extra large and cost $15 + postage. For information on T-shirts contact Pat Meyer at

Island Fox Ambassadors come in all sizes.