Sunday 21 December 2014

So what does the fox say? Schoolchildren learn with Patsy's pets

Sarah Slater

Published 06/03/2014 | 02:30

Patsy Gibbons from Colmcille, Thomastown, Co Kilkenny,  with his foxes Grainne (on his shoulder) Minnie (centre) and Henry (front). Picture: Dylan Vaughan.
Patsy Gibbons from Colmcille, Thomastown, Co Kilkenny, with his foxes Grainne (on his shoulder) Minnie (centre) and Henry (front). Picture: Dylan Vaughan.

THEY'RE the friendly foxes helping to teach children about these misunderstood creatures.

Patsy Gibbons, who now calls the foxes his pets, is busy visiting schools in the south east and teaching students about the creatures.

The Kilkenny man, who lives a couple of miles outside Thomastown, started off minding a vixen he calls Grainne seven years ago.

But now that number has grown to three, as people around the country are turning to him to care for animals they find injured.

"The foxes, Grainne and Minnie and now Henry – named after hurler Henry Shefflin – do get a lot of attention from the children living around here. Now primary schools are asking me to bring them along so the students can see them at first hand. It's keeping me very busy," said Mr Gibbons.

"I never set out to have pet foxes – it just happened. I ended up looking after Grainne since she was only seven weeks old. My brother-in-law found her in a box looking for heat in a store room close to Columba's Hospital in Thomastown.

"My brother-in-law said we should try to do something, as she was so thin. I took her to the local vet, and so I just continued on caring for her and haven't stopped.

"Minnie was brought to me as a month-old pup after a woman found her in Kilmaganny, just as word began to spread that I was already looking after Grainne. And Henry was brought to me by a man living in the nearby town of Graiguenamanagh after he was attacked by a dog. He had lots of injuries but is now nearly back to full health."

An animal lover, Patsy says three foxes, 28 hens, 12 ducks, two dogs and two cats are more than enough to look after – and isn't planning on expanding his menagerie any time soon.

Irish Independent

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