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Fox attack twin girls likely permanently scarred

Baby twin girls who were attacked by a fox as they slept in their cots in the family's east London home are likely to be permanently scarred.

Parents Pauline and Nick Koupparis told the BBC that both Lola and Isabella are recovering well from the 5 June attack.

But, they added, Isabella will require future surgeries on her injured arm.

Mrs Koupparis, who is originally from Northern Ireland, said initially she feared Lola, who was bitten on her face, would lose her eye.

The family spoke in detail for the first time to Sophie Raworth, recounting the horror of hearing their nine-month-old daughters' screams, only to find both babies bleeding and a brazen fox in the bedroom.

"I sort of lunged at it and it didn't even move. And I was just screaming and the girls were crying and Nick lunged a few times and the fox was sort of moving a foot at a time," Mrs Koupparis said of the attack on a warm evening as the twins' parents and four-year-old brother watched television downstairs.

Bloodied babygro

At first glance, Lola looked to have been more seriously injured but after Mr Koupparis picked up Isabella, he said he realised she was badly hurt.

Image caption The Koupparis' say they have never fed or encouraged foxes

"I could feel the blood was all seeping through her babygro and I threw whatever came to hand at the fox. It then scarpered down the stairs," he said.

Consultant reconstructive surgeon Raj Ragoowansi said despite seeing hundreds of dog bites in his career and one other fox bite, Isabella's injuries were the most severe animal bites he had ever seen: "The bite was a very strong bite because as far as the upper arm was concerned the wound was down to the bone."

As she grows, doctors say she will require future surgeries into her teenage years.

The Koupparises say they are grateful to have both girls home and on the mend, especially after the initial extent of their injuries and Isabella's breathing troubles that saw her transferred to Great Ormond Street Hospital's intensive care unit.

"Obviously, Lola came home first and it was incredible," said Mrs Koupparis.

"But at the same time I was thinking, well I just want them both and I was sort of thinking to myself what would I do if there was only one twin that came home and how could I ever deal with that as a mother."

No pets

Image caption Both babies are recovering well but Isabella will require more surgeries

The family said they chose to speak to Panorama, in a film made by the independent production company that Mr Koupparis works for, in an effort to deal with some of the aftermath of the publicity surrounding the fox attack, including having the horror of what happened to their daughters questioned by wildlife experts and animal rights activists.

At one stage, a social media network page questioning the family's story and the girls' injuries was created and the Koupparises were given temporary police protection.

"We had a police guard on the front door 24/7 for about three or four days and a panic alarm installed in the house because there were lots of things on websites... and they were just concerned that it could potentially be animal activists."

They stressed that they have not had a family pet since their eldest child was born and while they had seen foxes in their back garden and their neighbourhood, they had never fed or encouraged the animals.

Wildlife expert John Bryant said that while rare, the attack on the Koupparis twins should serve as a warning to the general public "that making pets of foxes, feeding foxes, getting them too used to people and certainly going into houses is not a good idea".

The Fox Attack Twins: A BBC One Special, Thursday, 1 July at 1900 BST.

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