As nine-month-old twin girls Isabella and Lola Koupparis remained in hospital with ‘life-changing injuries’ from last Saturday’s attack by a fox, Mayor Boris Johnson has urged London councils to step up their ‘pest control’.
And today, Hackney council issued urgent advice to people in the area about dealing with urban foxes.
The baby girls were rushed to the nearby Royal London Hospital after the incident on Saturday night but Isabella has since been transferred to Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH) in central London for further treatment.
A spokesperson said: “Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children NHS Trust can confirm that Isabella Koupparis is still a patient at the hospital and continues to receive the highest possible levels of care from medical staff.”
The Royal London Hospital said Lola remained in a serious but stable condition.
An uncle of the twins, David Watson, said today their parents were ‘bearing up’ under the circumstances.
He told the Sun newspaper: “The staff have been brilliant and there’s been an improvement this morning.
“The injuries are pretty life changing. If a fox has mauled you in the arm and face, they are going to be.”
The babies have had surgery and Watson said: “They are improving. Lola’s a lot better.”
Meanwhile, Mr Johnson labelled foxes a pest and a menace. They could, in rare circumstances, pose a threat to humans. He told reporters today: “It’s right that boroughs should focus on their duties for pest control because as romantic and cuddly as a fox is, it is also a pest.”
Pete Crowden, chairman of the National Pest Technicians Association, warned people to stay on guard if they notice a fox in their neighbourhood.
“To the urban fox, a rabbit -or a baby- is a wriggling piece of meat,” Crowden told the Daily Telegraph. “People have got to realise that these are dangerous animals. When a vixen has cubs, her main job is to feed them.”
While the Hackney Council believe there is no evidence that the number of urban foxes in Hackney is greater than in any other part of London or urban Britain, they said today: “We usually receive around a couple of phone calls a month from people concerned about foxes getting into their bins, and we always advise residents to make sure they secure their bins and their fences, and don’t leave food out.
“All the expert advice we have received suggests that shocking incidents like this are incredibly rare, and our thoughts are with the children and their family.”
The Kouppari’s neighbour, Tommy Walsh, 54, of the BBC’s Ground Force, spoke to East London Lines today of the fox problem in his area.
He said: “Foxes are usually nocturnal and lone animals, yet in this area we see them on the streets during the day and roaming in groups. This is unnatural behaviour, they appear to be getting bolder.”
Mr Walsh has labelled his 11 stone Rhodesian Ridgeback, Alfie, the ‘Fox Dissuader’. “He often chases foxes, but isn’t fast enough to ever catch them. They like to tease Alfie by walking along our garden wall.”
He said he believes the council must take action, “There is a problem and something positive must be done. We can’t leave the situation as it is. We need a good strong policy. I think the most likely route of action that will be taken is the council with catch and relocate the foxes- at the taxpayers’ expense.
“I’m surprised and shocked by the attack as I’ve been led to believe that they are shy of humans. I wonder how would it have ended if the mother hadn’t heard them?”
Adam Rider, 29, a local bike shop owner, is also a neighbour. He said: “I hope that the foxes aren’t persecuted because of this. I don’t want it to be like sharks in Jaws! I’m a night owl, I’m always out on my bike, I come across them, it’s nice to see wildlife, they talk about foxes killing cats but I’ve always had a cats and I’ve never had a problem. I’m worried that people are going to put poison out. I’ve lived in this area my whole life. At the moment there are more foxes around than usual.”
The Council and police hand-delivered information to 200 households in the Victoria ward area this morning explaining that humane traps have been put in the garden of the Lauriston Road property as well as providing contact numbers for the RSPCA for those concerned about foxes’ welfare.
They gave residents the following tips:
-put your rubbish out in wheelie bins or closed containers, not plastic bags
-only put refuse out on the morning of collection
-do not leave food out for other animals, e.g. cats
-make sure food left out for birds is in an approved container
-make sure there are no areas where foxes can shelter, e.g. neglected areas, under buildings
-animal repellents are available from DIY centers
Additional reporting by Karen Eimot