Two Meerkat pups born January 7 at Australia’s Taronga Zoo are already practicing the skills they’ll need as adults.
Photo Credit: Paul Fahy
The pups, which are the first to be born at Taronga Zoo in nearly seven years, have just started venturing out of their nest box. At less than one month old, they’re already eating solid food like mealworms and insect larvae. The pups are also practicing to be sentries by standing on their hind legs. Meerkats take turns standing as sentries to protect their social group from predators and other threats.
Keepers think that the pups are a male and a female, but the genders will be confirmed later this month when they have their first vaccinations and veterinary exam. Keepers perform quick health checks and weigh-ins regularly to ensure that the pups are healthy and comfortable in the presence of keepers.
As with all Meerkat young, the yet-to-be named pups are developing very quickly. Despite only weighing less than an ounce at birth, they now weigh more than a quarter of a pound.
Meerkats are native to southern Africa, where they inhabit arid locales such as the Kalahari and Namib Deserts. Living in clans of about 20 individuals, Meerkats construct large networks of underground burrows. Aside from acting as sentries, they exhibit other social behaviors such as babysitting and protecting young of other group members. Meerkats are not under significant threat and are classified as Least Concern by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.
See more photos of the Meerkat pups below.