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Baby meerkat at Longleat Safari and Adventure Park two PIC Ian TurnerA baby Meerkat is making its first public appearance at the United Kingdom’s Longleat Safari & Adventure Park.

Baby meerkat at Longleat Safari and Adventure Park one PIC Ian Turner
Baby meerkat and adult at Longleat Safari and Adventure Park PIC Ian TurnerPhoto Credit:  Ian Turner

Although born in May, the pup has spent the last two months inside an underground den with first-time parents Cassie and Pipsqueak.  This week, the baby is venturing outside for the first time!

“It’s been a long wait but the pup is now loving the outside and can be regularly spotted alongside the six other adults in this group,” said Longleat’s Darren Beasley.  “All the older Meerkats take turns in keeping watch over the baby and share any tasty bugs that they find.”   Keepers don’t know the baby’s gender yet.

Baby Meerkats are born virtually naked and helpless with their eyes closed. They spend the first weeks of life underground and are completely reliant on their mother’s milk.  Once they begin venturing outside, they stay close to their burrows under the watchful eye of a Meerkat babysitter.

At around two months of age the pups, although still nursing, will start foraging for insects and other food items with the rest of the group but it can take up to 16 weeks for them to be completely weaned.

Native to southern Africa, Meerkats spend much of their day sunbathing.  Lying on their backs, their dark-skinned, sparsely-furred bellies act as 'solar panels' to warm them up.

Meerkats have a wide vocabulary with a variety of alarm calls. Meerkats are relatively long-lived, particularly in captivity where individuals can live for up to 12 years or more.