Chester Zoo is celebrating the arrival of its newest resident – a Meerkat kit. The tiny newcomer has made its first public appearance after being hidden away in burrows by its parents since being born three weeks ago (approximately January 9). That is the normal time frame for babies to emerge from the den and begin to inspect their surroundings.
Keeper Chris Grindle said, “The pup is doing really well and has now started exploring its exhibit with the adults. Soon it’ll learn to forage and dig in the sand for grubs. It’s too small to sex at the moment but we should know if it’s male or female in the next couple of weeks.” Once the baby's gender is known, it will be named.
As a rule, mothers keep their young underground in the first few weeks of life, so it can be hard to tell an exact birthdate, or even know how many kits might be in a litter. In the wild, this also protects them against predators. In addition to Mom's care, kits are tended to by select members of their mob as babysitters, while others stand guard, scanning the horizon and skies for any dangers, ready to alert the group if need be. In fact, the dark patches around their eyes act to cut down on the glare and help them see far into the distance. Meerkats are native to Angola, Botswana, Namibia, South Africa.