"Fox tots attack shock": Urban foxes, mass media and boundary-breaching

Angela Cassidy*, Brett Mills

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (journal)peer-review

42 Citations (Scopus)


On June 7, 2010, UK media outlets reported that 9-month-old twins living in East London had been rushed to hospital following a "suspected fox attack": the babies had been seriously injured. This story received sustained coverage for several months, and became the focus of debate over the behavior of urban foxes, and how they and humans should coexist. Using textual analysis to unravel the various discourses surrounding this moment, this paper discusses how the incident became such a prominent "media event." Alongside the contexts of the "silly season" and a period of political transition, we argue that this incident breached a series of spatial boundaries that many societies draw between people and the "natural world," from the "safest space" of a child's cot, to the categorizations made about animals themselves. We discuss the consequences of such boundary breaches, pointing to a deep confusion over the assignment of responsibility for, and expertise about, the figure of the "urban fox."

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)494-511
Number of pages18
JournalEnvironmental Communication
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2012


  • Animals and Media
  • Human-Animal Studies
  • Space and Boundaries
  • Urban Environments
  • Wildlife


Dive into the research topics of '"Fox tots attack shock": Urban foxes, mass media and boundary-breaching'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this