A pair of foxes and their four cubs have been spotted in the most famous Parisian cemetery, a verdant haven that has never been as peaceful as in this time of confinement.
The family of foxes were captured on camera by the groundskeeper of the Pere Lachaise cemetery, Benoit Gallot. They were notably shared by Pénélope Komitès, deputy mayor of Paris in charge of nature, biodiversity and funerary services:
Et … Merci au conservateur du #PereLachaise d'avoir réussi à prendre ces merveilleuses photos de petits renardeaux 🙂 cc @Anne_Hidalgo pic.twitter.com/e5fS6TRlUR
— penelope komites (@PKOMITES) April 25, 2020
She appears delighted with the bucolic news in an interview with Le Parisien: “We had already noted the presence of foxes for five or six years in our cemeteries, but mainly in the suburbs, such as in Thiais, Bagneux, Pantin or Ivry. Here, at Père-Lachaise, it is a first. In fact, the assistant curator, who has been working there for 25 years, had never seen any!”
“They are undisturbed, which also confirms that they are now able to travel great distances, especially to hunt and feed. Indeed, we have found them in the Bois de Vincennes and also along the Petite ceinture [Editor’s Note: the disused railroad track system circling Paris]. For this newly settled family, the situation is almost idyllic. No cars, no visits, and no predators.”
The six foxes of Père Lachaise join the abundant bestiary of the Parisian cemeteries. Before their recent installation, the enigmatic silhouette of Cayenne, a Malinois, made regular apparitions in the alleys of Père Lachaise for around four years. Last February, the wandering dog was welcomed by a family linked to the association Giapa, which specializes in the protection of previously mistreated animals.
In addition to countless rodents and birds, the largest — and usually most visited — Parisian necropolis is home to a colony of cats fed by passionate residents. More surprisingly, these past few years, its vast canopy has been home to a whole choir of ring-necked parakeets. Not far from there, frequent visitors of the small Charonne cemetery (also in the 20th arrondissement) are well acquainted with their neighbor Grisou, a resident feline pampered by the whole neighbourhood.
According to information from Le Parisien, the foxes were initially supposed to be “captured and then redirected to the Petite ceinture or the Bois de Vincennes, places more conducive to their long-term safety,” after the deconfinement proceedings, scheduled to begin on the 11th of May.
However, on May 3rd, city officials announced that no action would be taken to remove the foxes. Wildlife and conservation associations, such as the local network Paris Animaux Zoopolis, had been advocating against the move. The family now has at least a week left, if not more, to enjoy the 44 hectares (110 acres) of the cemetery without having to share its cobbled alleys with human visitors.
Note: Updated on May 3rd to include the decision of the Paris city hall not to remove the foxes.
Pictures (cropped) © DR/Benoît Gallot – Ville de Paris