Two Meerkat pups born on December 15 at the Taronga Western Plains Zoo are emerging from the den to explore their surroundings. This is the fifth litter of pups for their mother, Umi, who keeps a close watch on her adventurous pups.
Keepers named the female pup Zola, meaning “love,” and the male Kato, meaning “second born of twins” in an African language. “The two Meerkat pups are doing well and Umi is displaying all the right maternal behaviours, which is great to see,” said zoo keeper Karen Ellis.
Both Umi and the father, Maputo, play an important role in rearing the pups. Other members of the Meerkat troop pitch in to care for and protect the pups as they grow. The zoo’s Meerkat troop now numbers 11 individuals.
Native to southern Africa, Meerkats live in large family groups within underground burrows. Members of the group take turns acting as sentries, standing upright at the burrow entrance to warn others of threats. When danger approaches, the sentry barks a warning, alerting the group to seek shelter in the burrow.