Animal Welfare Groups Urge TikToker to Surrender ‘Pet’ Fox

Animal welfare groups are calling on Ágúst Beinteinn Árnason to surrender, Gústi Jr, the “pet” Arctic fox that the Icelandic TikToker has featured in recent videos, some of which had over 120,000 views at time of writing. Vísir was the first to report.

“Gústi the Fox and his ‘owner’ […] have been in the media of late. The fox is being kept in what appears to be downtown Reykjavík, on a leash for [Ágúst’s] amusement,” wrote DÝR, the Animal Service of Reykjavík, in a Facebook post on Thursday. “There is, of course, no need to expound on the fact that this is a criminal offense; foxes are wild animals that cannot be kept without a special permit.”

“Judging from news reports, [the fox] seems to be a cub born this spring and so it’s to be expected that it is still rather cute and smells reasonably good. But this will, of course, change in the coming months when the animal approaches sexual maturity. At that point, the fox will start to become restless in captivity.”

Screenshot, gustib_1, TikTok

For his part, Ágúst claims that the fox is not a cub at all, but fully grown. Moreover, he says that Gústi isn’t a wild animal at all, but rather was raised among people, and doesn’t know anything other than living in domesticity. “That’s the reason he’s so tame,” he explained to RÚV. It’s not entirely clear how Ágúst first obtained the fox; he told reporters that he’d been asked to take the animal and asserted that it now lives a good life, safe from hunters. “We saw it as soon as he came to us,” Ágúst continued. “It’s obvious that a fox that acts like he does was raised among people.”

MAST, the Icelandic Food and Veterinary Authority, insists that videos of the fox clearly show that the animal is in distress. Employees of the agency visited Ágúst at home to urge that Gústi be handed over to Húsdýragarðurinn, the Reykjavík Park and Zoo, with hopes that it could be rehabilitated and returned to the wild, like many of the fox cubs that the zoo takes into its care.

DÝR has echoed this call, saying that the window during which the fox could have been returned to the wild has most likely closed, but if appropriate steps are not taken, the animal will likely have to be euthanized when Ágúst is no longer able to keep him. “If there is no room for it at the zoo,” the DÝR post continues, “you can try to send him somewhere else. Húsdýragarðurinn has sent foxes to zoos in Norway and Sweden, where there the species also has a natural home, even though the population is small.” The best course of action, says DÝR, would be for Ágúst to turn the fox over to Húsdýragarðurinn without delay so that they can find a suitable home for it.

At time of writing, Ágúst was still “thinking about” whether he’d surrender the animal. He was surprised, he said, that a fox “who loves to watch Netflix” should be such a big deal in the eyes of authorities. “We let people lock minks in cages and slaughter them, but we have an axe to grind about foxes that are tame and aren’t doing any harm.”

If he does decide to surrender the fox, however, Ágúst said that he was going to seriously consider requesting a percentage of the proceeds from the park’s ticket sales. After all, he said, Gústi is currently the most famous fox in the country and would undoubtedly be a big attraction.


Three-Party Coalition to Continue

Bjarni, Katrín, Sigurður Ingi coalition

Katrín Jakobsdóttir, Chairperson of the Left-Green Party and current Prime Minister, met with President Guðni Th. Jóhannesson on Friday morning to advise him that the current three-party coalition plans to continue its cooperation for another term, RÚV reports.

The coalition, which was formed after much negotiation in 2017, is composed of the Left-Greens, the Independence Party, and the Progressive Party. The coalition signalled that it was considering continued collaboration after they maintained their parliamentary majority in September’s election. Katrín, Progressive Party Chairperson Sigurður Ingi Jóhannsson, and Independence Party Chairperson Bjarni Benediktsson have, however, been tight-lipped so far as to the content of their discussions.

See Also: Governing Coalition in Talks for Continued Collaboration

After advising the President of their plans for continued collaboration, the three party leaders met to continue their discussions.

Her Voice Holds Conference on Health of Foreign Women in Iceland

Hennar Rödd / Her Voice, a nonprofit which “strives to raise awareness of the experiences of women of foreign origin in Iceland” will be holding a conference in Reykjavík today, Saturday October 2.

Topics to be discussed include the experience of women of foreign origin within the Icelandic healthcare system, not least as regards accessibility and cultural sensitivity, as well as mental health, sexual health, and freedom. The conference will take place in Icelandic and English and be translated into Polish and English.

Hennar Rödd / Her Voice received funding from the Icelandic Gender Equality Fund to support the conference, which will open with remarks from First Lady Eliza Reid, who is herself originally from Canada. Participants include activists, educators, politicians, artists, researchers, and professionals from Germany, Jamaica, Mexico, Morocco, Poland, Scotland, Singapore, Somalia, and the US.

Inspired by her mother

Hennar Rödd / Her Voice was founded by Chanel Björk Sturludóttir and Elínborg Kolbeinsdóttir and took its inspiration from Chanel’s mother, Letetia B. Jonsson, who is of Jamaican and British descent and lived in Iceland about 10 years ago.

“Whilst living in Iceland, Letetia participated in the community of women of foreign origin and met many inspiring women with whom she shared similar challenges in regards to integrating to Icelandic society as well as the language barriers they met,” explains text on the Her Voice website. “As Letetia’s daughter, Chanel experiences these challenges that women of foreign origin in Iceland face through her mother. These difficulties affected Chanel’s own experience as a mixed-race Icelander and encouraged her to take on this matter. After looking to her friend, Elínborg Kolbeinsdóttir, who studied sociology and human rights, they decided to join forces and found an organisation with the common goal to raise awareness of the experiences of women of foreign origin in Icelandic society.”

Her Voice focuses on four key challenges faced by women of foreign origin in Iceland: Language acquistion, Gender-based violence, high unemployment rates, and barriers to adequate health care.

Those who would like to attend the conference can join Her Voice at the same time; a combined ticket and membership costs ISK 1,500. A ticket alone is ISK 1,000. Find out more on the conference website here.