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Among the top 10 most beloved animals on the internet, Juniper Fox has been enchanting people from the start. Her wily personality and exotic look is displayed on her dedicated Instagram page and has found her over 1.8 million followers on the platform. As a social media influencer, Juniper is reaching thousands on a daily basis, educating them on pet ownership, animal treatment, and other cute animals.
In our exclusive interview, Juniper’s owner, Jessika, gives us her take on what housing a pet fox actually means, and how success on Juniper’s channel has enabled her to partner with brand and non-profit organizations.
1. How did Juniper come into your life?
Juniper first came to me after a friend had shown me a post on social media about a farm that was looking to house fox kits. The kits were considered too tame to live in the wild and were descended from animals that were once bred for their fur. I had worked with foxes in the past and knew I would be able to provide a home for one of the tiny foxes.
2. Where does her name come from?
I decided to name her Juniper. Juniper is often used in Native American culture to ward off negative energy. I felt like the name was a perfect fit for a red fox, which tend to be energetic, playful creatures by nature.
3. What has it been like raising her? What are the unique challenges that come with raising a fox?
Raising a fox is drastically different from raising a dog or cat. They’re usually very skittish, aloof animals and they will let you know when they’re uncomfortable by biting or relieving themselves. They’re nearly impossible to fully house train because they are biologically wired to want to mark their territory. They also require ownership permits, outdoor enclosures, and specialized vets. All of the upkeep adds up so they’re fairly costly to keep.
Because of these needs, raising Juniper was very difficult. She is highly intelligent and learns very quickly, which can make it great and difficult to live with her. When she dislikes something she doesn’t forget. For example, after bringing home our newest rescue fox, Fig, Juniper was exposed to ear mites. I applied medicine to her ear once, but because she hated the first experience and retains information well, she didn’t let me come near her if I was even holding the bottle in my hand afterward. I often have to find alternate means of doing tasks that would be simple with a domestic animal.
4. How would you describe Juniper’s personality and her role in your family? What are some habits that Juniper has that other pets don’t?
Besides being intelligent, Juniper has a very expressive personality. She almost acts more like a person than an animal. She is vocal and constantly talks back when I ask what she is doing, or if she’s having a good day. She’ll even yell at me if I do something she disapproves of. She’s like having a small furry relative in the house, that makes themselves at home in your house while you tiptoe around their ever-growing needs. She’s one of a kind and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
5. How did you get Juniper involved in Instagram? How has the account’s success changed your life and work?
I began Junipers Instagram as a way to show her progress adapting to living in our home. I had no idea it would take off the way that it has. Instagram hasn’t changed much of our lives altogether. We are still just a family, only now with about 1.8 million people.
6. How do you decide which of brands or non-profit institutions to work with? What is your process for selecting?
Collaborating with brands and non-profit institutions is a natural part of having a large audience on Instagram. We’re presented with new opportunities daily. Some companies pitch great offers, but what it really comes down to is whether or not they’re animal-friendly and if they have the best intentions for both animals and our audience. I really enjoy being completely authentic and open with our growing audience, and I would never promote anything I’m not in love with myself.
7. What are some noteworthy moments and experiences you’ve had since Juniper’s become Instagram famous?
My favorite part of having so many eyes looking at us on Instagram is being able to bring people the same joy that Juniper gives to me daily. I often get messages about how Juniper made someone’s day. Many times I’ve had people send me a personal email explaining how they’ve been struggling greatly with depression or a tragedy in their lives and seeing Juniper made them smile genuinely for the first time in weeks. Bringing others happiness is such a special feeling and I’m grateful that I can share that with so many people every day.
8. Lightning round: Juniper’s favorite treat?
Jumpin’ Stix and marshmallows
Giant banana that says “peeling fabulous” on the side.
Best way to calm or soothe a fox?
With chicken gizzards and ear rubs.
9. Where do you hope to take Juniper’s account in the future?
Having so much support from around the world has helped us to grow closer to our ultimate goal of running an exotic animal sanctuary. I’m hoping that within the next year we will reach 501c status, allowing us to buy a plot of land and begin taking in exotic animals and wildlife that would otherwise have nowhere else to go.
I’m so thankful for all of the opportunities that have been presented through Juniper in the last year. I am ecstatic to see how the next year unfolds and how I can bring a little bit more happiness to the world, with the happiest fox by my side.