Located in Santa Ysabel in in Southern California, the Judith A. Bassett Canid Education and Conservation Center (or JABCECC) began just over two years ago. Home to domesticated Russian foxes, affectionately known as Siberian cupcakes, the center focuses on rescue and conservation canines, including primitive dogs like Carolina dogs and New Guinea song dogs.
The center also offers a series of interactive on-site and off-site educational events with the public, so visitors can spend time learning more about these rare and unique animals. Programs include everything from wine tastings and hikes with the canines to storytelling sessions for children, as well as private events, parties and educational seminars. “Our mission is to seek new ways to educate and defend the various canines found around the world, ”explains Dave Bassett from JABCECC. “We are not open to the public on a regular schedule, but offer various programs at the center or other places by appointment,” he continues.
Domesticated Russian red foxes, also known as Vulpes vulpes, were bred for taming at Institute of Cytology and Genetics in Novosibirsk Russia for over 50 years. According to their website, in 1959, Soviet geneticist Dr Dmitri Belyaev started the program, hoping to gain a better understanding of the process of domestication in canids. Selected foxes from the program were recently airlifted to the United States to continue research efforts, as well as to allow the public to spot these animals.
Today, at JABCECC, visitors can book private meetings with foxes starting at US $ 25. The price includes one hour with Russian domesticated foxes Belyaev in an intimate setting. Private events for two are also offered ($ 150 for a couple), with an additional $ 25 per person thereafter. For larger groups including schools, nonprofits, and businesses, they also have onsite and offsite events ranging from 1 to 3 hours, which means they’ll take the foxes to you.
In addition to public programs, the center also works with various researchers studying domestication and how it can actually help. heal humans, in particular with regard to people suffering from social bond disorders. Using controlled studies, JABCECC strives to bridge the gap between sincere conservation efforts and academia to deliver new discoveries regarding domestication. They are partnering with shelters, animal-assisted therapy organizations, dog shelters, and genetics experts to study the symbiotic and healing benefits of these interactions.