Immigrant fundraises to open fox rescue, kitten nursery

When Faribault’s Merri Darling first met Ianto, he was 3 weeks old. The last of his litter, he lived in a 5-by-6-foot cage at a fur farm, where he would never see the sun. If he was lucky, she said, he would’ve been used to breed more blue arctic foxes.

If not, once he was about 8 months old, he would’ve been electrocuted and killed for his thick winter pelt.

Ianto didn’t have to face either of those realities, like thousands of other foxes, minks and other animals each year in the United States do. Instead, he became the reason Darling started the Marvellous Menagerie, a neonatal kitten rescue and the 12th fox rescue in the U.S.

The nonprofit doesn’t have a permanent location yet, but Darling is fundraising to get one somewhere locally. She has a goal of $30,000, which an anonymous donor agreed to match.

Although Ianto was the main push to start the Menagerie, she knew she wanted to own a rescue back when she was 10.

“When I was a kid, I used to describe a place I wanted when I was grown up,” she said. “I wanted a farm where nobody was killed and everybody had names and got cuddles. Being so young, I didn’t realize what I was describing was a rescue.”

After she followed Juniper Fox on social media, she looked more and more into fur farms and fox rescues. Eventually, she got in contact with Mikayla Raines, the founder of SaveAFox Rescue in rural Rice County between Faribault and Lonsdale.

A few years ago, Darling and her husband moved from the United Kingdom to the U.S