A rare silver arctic fox, a tough breed used to treading the icy wastes of Alaska and Canada, has been given a new home and a warm welcome at Selby Animal Sanctuary.

The eight-month-old fox - there are less than 100 in the whole of the UK - was taken in by a Yorkshire couple after they found it wandering around in their gar-den.

After finding the address of the Hambleton sanctuary on the Internet, the couple contacted owner Joan Scott who has now adopted the animal.

It is thought the fox may have escaped from a wildlife sanctuary or safari park, or was being kept as a pet and simply ran off.

The sanctuary's new star resident, which has the warmest fur of any mammal, now snuggles up in a straw bed in an adapted double dog kennel, with a secure run.

Mrs Scott said the animal, who they have named Foxy, had come on "leaps and bounds" since they took it in two months ago.

She said: "Foxy can't be released into the wild because he just wouldn't survive, so we have adopted him and he now has a permanent home here.

Mrs Scott said they had no intention, however, of domesticating him and making him into a "pet dog".

Craig Ralston, assistant site manager at English Nature's Lower Derwent Valley national nature reserve, said: "If a home couldn't have been found for Foxy, he would have been put down, which would have been a great shame."

* In the summer, the arctic fox sheds its white coat for a brown one for better cover. They can also be found in Russia and Greenland, and feed primarily on small mammals, including lemmings and voles.