Keepers at Paradise Wildlife Park in Hertfordshire in the UK were stunned after one of their Meerkats gave birth to six pups in one litter. It's an incredibly rare occurrence -- a normal litter is between two and four kits -- and it's even more unusual that their mom, Twig, is successfully raising them all. What's more, she gave birth to two babies just two months ago, and to another one two months before that!
Meerkat keeper Jessie Croone said, “I came in early to check on them last week, and when I lifted the lid off of their nest box, I had the shock of my life. There was just a mass of baby meerkats! I couldn't even count them all at first, there were so many!”
Slender-tailed meerkats live in large family groups called mobs in their native habitat of the Kalihari and Namib deserts. Mobs are matriarchal and are run by one breeding pair. The top female is the only female in the group permitted to breed, but all of the others in the group help to raise the young. Meerkats have risen massively in popularity in recent years, from exposure as Alexandr in the car insurance marketing campaign and television programs such as Meerkat Manor.
More meerkat pictures and information after the jump:
Head keeper Yianna Cooling said, “Mum had a bit of an accident with one of them when she was moving the kits from one place to another. One of the babies has lost a little bit of one of his ears. We've named him Vincent, after Vincent van Gogh! So we're now thinking of artists names for the others...”