Baby attack fox 'saw children as food rivals'
A fox which attacked twin baby girls may have seen them as potential rivals for food, an animal expert has said.
Urban wildlife consultant John Bryant said the attack on Lola and Isabella Koupparis in east London was "terrible".
Mr Bryant, who is based in Tonbridge, Kent, said the animal was probably a cub of three to four months who was attracted by the smell of milk or the babies' nappies.
He said the cub might have tried to tug a nappy out of the babies' cot and thought the nine-month-old twins were preventing it. "I think this fox has grabbed the nappy thinking it was food, can't get it out through the bars and fought with what it sees as a rival for the nappy," he said. Mr Bryant, who said foxes often drag nappies out of bins thinking they are food, added: "It's a terrible event."
He said foxes were not usually aggressive towards humans and the incident had made people panic.
The baby girls were mauled as they slept and remained in hospital as London Mayor Boris Johnson said councils should "focus on their duties for pest control". The babies, aged nine months, were found covered in blood after the fox went into their upstairs bedroom and attacked them in their cots in Hackney, east London. They were taken to the Royal London Hospital in east London after the incident on Saturday night but Isabella was transferred to Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH) in central London for further treatment.
A GOSH NHS Trust spokeswoman 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.
Meanwhile, Mr Johnson said foxes were a pest and a menace and could in rare circumstances pose a threat to humans, telling reporters: "Therefore 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."
Family members reportedly said that the fox attack could be "life-changing" for the twins. Their mother, Pauline Koupparis, discovered the tots looking "like something from a horror movie" after the mauling and described it as "like a living nightmare". Lola had facial injuries and some puncture marks on her arm, while Isabella suffered injuries to her arm and both children underwent surgery, she said.
The fox is thought to have crept in through a door on the ground floor which had been left open because of the hot weather while Mrs Koupparis and her husband Nick watched Britain's Got Talent on television.