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In the early hours of Friday, June 21, at the height of the flood that engulfed the Calgary Zoo, curator Dr. Malu Celli and event-tech Josh Watson hurried to rescue the zoo’s five adult Meerkats – Petunia, Penelope, Kruger, Kwando, and Karoo – from the African Savannah building. No one anticipated the water would rise so high in the building and so the Meerkats had been left in their home the night before, with staff thinking they would be safe there. With the rapidly rising water quickly collapsing the burrows in their home, time was running out and the five had taken refuge in a concrete log in the exhibit. 

One week later, on Friday, June 28, while housed in comfortable temporary quarters at the zoo’s animal health center, five healthy pups were born. It seems that Penelope is the mom, but there’s a chance that some of the pups may belong to Petunia. Sounds confusing? While Penelope appears to be taking the lead as mom, Petunia is also lending a hand with the pups, and without close examination, it’s difficult to be 100 percent certain who is mom to whom. 

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Photo Credits: Calgary Zoo

See a video about the rescue below:

See and learn more after the fold.

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“It was important that we not disturb the Meerkats and the litter, in particular after everything they have been through,” explained general curator Jamie Dorgan. “So it took a few days before we got an accurate count on the number of pups. From everything we are seeing, we are optimistic that they are doing well so far.” 

In Meerkat society, the entire group participates in the care of young, and while adults are out foraging for food, one helper always remains at the den to tend to the young. Calgary Zoo's entire mob of Meerkats - that’s what a group of Meerkats is called – is living as one big happy family. The dominant male of the group, Kruger, is assumed to be the father of the pups. Like kittens, Meerkat pups are born with their eyes closed and are quite helpless for the first few weeks of life, with activity gradually increasing. Meerkats generally live in family groups of up to 10 individuals. Females can produce between one and three litters per year if conditions are right with ample food present.