Playful Meerkat Trio Joins the Family at Zoo Heidelberg

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Zoo Heidelberg's Meerkat family has grown again, for the second time this year. In early October, three pups were born. Born naked, blind and helpless, the pups have developed much over the past few weeks and now can be seen running around outside the den with the zoo's other 15 Meekats. The three young pups are very wild and playful, developing the skills that they would need in the wild to be successful foragers and hunters.

Meerkats, endemic to the desert of southern Africa, are members of the mongoose family. They live in social colonies in underground burrows and tunnels that help to protect them against the harsh sun. These groups always follow a structured system of rank: only the dominant male and female reproduce, while the others help out as babysitters. Some members of the colony act as scouts that cry out to warn each other if a predator, like a hawk, is spotted. Even though there aren't any serious predators at Heidelberg Zoo, the zoo's Meerkats still show this behavior.  

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Meerkat 5Photo credits: Peter Bastian (1-4); Heidrun Knigge (5)

Although small, Meerkats are skilled hunters and can kill prey up to the size of a lizard or bird. At the zoo, the Meerkats are presented with a healthy variety of fruits as well as animal foods. Their favorite treat is a sprinkling of mealworms: they love to scratch and dig around until every last one has been found. 

Meerkat Pups Join the Family at Bioparc Valencia

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Bioparc Valencia in Spain is now home to five little Meerkat pups. Meerkats, endemic to the desert of southern Africa, are members of the mongoose family. They live in social colonies in underground burrows and tunnels that help to protect them against the day's scorching heat. Some members of the colony act as scouts that cry out to warn each other if a predator, like a hawk, is spotted. Meerkats will also babysit for each other as they are raising pups, protecting and sometimes even nursing each other's young. 

Meerkats can reproduce year-round, and may have up to four litters per year in the wild. Pups leave the den to explore at about three weeks old, and start to learn how to forage for and eat small animals and plants by watching and mimicking adults. It takes careful observation and practice to master the art of catching (and eating) scorpions!

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See a video of the Meerkat family:

UPDATE! Meerkat Family Grows as Calgary Zoo Rebuilds

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Back in June, staff at Calgary Zoo in Alberta rushed to batten down the hatches during a flood. They rescued five meerkats from a damaged exhibit just in time. The zoo withstood terrible damage, but there was a bright spot too: one week later, on June 28, one of the rescued female meerkats gave birth to five little cubs. (See our original story about the rescue and birth here.)

At two months old, the five cubs are now healthy, adventurous, and growing like weeds. They haven't been named yet because it will take a checkup to determine the sexes of the pups. Their mother is doing an excellent job at raising her offspring, so caretakers have decided not to intervene with the family just yet, as everything appears to be going smoothly. 

Calgary Zoo is in the process of repairing and rebuilding after the extensive damage caused by the flood. If you'd like to help out with a donation, it's easy to do from the Calgary Zoo website!

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Photo credits: Calgary Zoo

Meerkat Family Grows at Cotswold Wildlife Park


The Cotswold Wildlife Park has their hands full with eight Meerkat pups. Three of the pups, currently living in the porcupine exhibit, were born on May 31. The other five were born on June 19.

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The name Meerkat comes from the Afrikaans words meaning "marsh cat". However, Meerkats are not related to cats, nor do they live in marshlands. Meerkats are social animals that live in large communities of 25 or more individuals. Communities live in burrows, composed of complex tunnel systems consisting of mounds, tunnels, and sleeping chambers. 

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Photo Credit: Cotswold Wildlife Park 

After Flood Rescue, Five Meerkats Born at Calgary Zoo

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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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Six New Baby Meerkats Make Their Own Little Mob at Schönbrunn Zoo

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Making their own little mob, no less than six baby Meerkats were born on June 2 at Vienna's Schönbrunn Zoo! Last year, Meerkats were voted to be the favorite animals there by zoo guests, so this big addition is exciting news.

“We are of course thrilled that all six are doing great at the moment,” says the zoo’s director, Dagmar Schratter. “At birth, Meerkats are blind and naked. They spent the first few weeks in the safety of their burrow but to the delight of the visitors, they are now already exploring their surroundings, running the rest of the clan off their feet.”

Meerkats belong to the mongoose family and live in the savannas in the south of Africa. Typically, these small predators get up on their hind legs to watch out for possible danger. In a Meerkat colony, tasks are carefully distributed by a matriarch in the group (also called a mob). They also work together in raising their young whereby one of the animals always acts as “babysitter”. For the first few weeks, the six mini-Meerkats were suckled by their mother but since then, insects have been added to their diet.

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Photo Credits: Photo 2, 3, 5, 6, 7, 9, 10, 12, 14: Daniel Zupanc, Photo 1, 8, 13: Tiergarten Schönbrunn/Norbert Potensky, Photo 4, 11: Walter Wodal,  

The plethora of pictures continues, after the fold:

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One, Two, Three, Four! Four Little Meerkat Pups for Twycross Zoo

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Four Meerkat pups have been born at Twycross Zoo in England, and the tiny new arrivals have already proved a huge hit with visitors! The pups were born on May 11 to mum Tallulah after an 11-week gestation period. While staff were keeping an eye out for pups after spotting a heavily pregnant Tallulah, quadruplets came as a welcome surprise to everyone.

Julian Chapman, Team Leader of Large Mammals, commented, “This is the largest litter of pups we’ve had in a few years. They are all doing very well and mum is doing a great job caring for them, despite probably having her hands full! At four weeks old, the pups are still feeding from mum and will become fully weaned and eating solids at around 60 days old.”

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Photo Credit: Twycross Zoo

Meerkats are part of the mongoose family and live in large families in burrows in the desert. They are highly social animals and live groups called mobs -- and family members are very much involved in raising pups. Julian added: “Aunties and older sisters will help mum out with babysitting whilst she goes off to feed, and other members of the family will stand on their hind legs keeping a look out for predators. The pups spent the first few weeks in their underground burrows and have just started venturing out."

The pups have been a huge hit with visitors and are on view now, but you can see them right now by clicking on the video below!

See more pictures after the jump:

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Zoo Keepers Save Orphaned Baby Meerkat at Chessington World of Adventures Resort

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Meet baby Lila. Zoo Keepers at the UK's Chessington World of Adventures Resort have taken the tiny Meerkat under their wing, after she was rejected by her mother. Just 22 days old and weighing 119 grams, the equivalent weight of half a stick of butter, Lila is receiving round the clock attention.

Keeper Gemma Anscomb has taken on the challenge of being the main caregiver for Lila, with duties including milk-feeding every two hours and lots of cuddles. Anscomb said, “Little Lila was sadly abandoned by her mummy. This often happens in the wild. If the parents feel that the family group is getting too large, they will often seek out the weakest of the group and reject them from it. We closely monitored the group following Lila’s birth and when we saw something wasn’t quite right, we stepped in. I’m delighted to say she is doing really well.”

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Photo Credit: Chessington World of Adventures Resort

“We’re all so pleased to see that little Lila is developing by the day and are looking forward to introducing her to her new family in the Wanyama Village very soon,” Anscomb added. She may be small but she’s a little fighter and has proven quite a character already!  She loves nothing more than snuggling up to her Mumma Duck cuddly toy and getting lots of attention from her keepers.”

Lila has begun a program of meeting her fellow Meerkat playmates, where she’s learning behaviors from them and developing her natural instincts. She will also begin to try some solid food. Lila will make her public debut this Saturday, May 25.


Trio of Meerkat Kits Born at Paradise Wildlife Park

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On February 14, Meerkat mom Twig delivered three kits at the Paradise Wildlife Park in the United Kingdom.  The little Meerkats, all males, were named Mr. Darcy, Romeo, and Puck after characters in classic romantic stories.  The trio’s arrival brings the grand total of Meerkats at the park to 13.



Photo Credits:  Paradise Wildlife Park

It doesn’t take Meerkat kits very long to become busy, active members of their clan.  At about three weeks old, the kits emerged from the burrow for the first time and quickly learned to forage with the adults.  They now spend much of their day investigating their exhibit and playing with each other, according to the Park’s staff.

In the wild, Meerkats construct a complex system of underground burrows in which they sleep, bear young, and hide from predators.  They live in family groups of 20-30 individuals and often share duties parenting the young, acting as lookouts, and babysitting kits.  Meerkats spend most of the day foraging for insects, bird and reptile eggs, lizards, scorpions, spiders, and small mammals. 

Meerkats are native to southernmost Africa, where they inhabit portions of the Kalahari and Namib deserts, Angola, and South Africa.  They are not considered a threatened species. 

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Presenting Lilo, Mushu, Grimsby, Basil and Fidget!


The Feb. 26th birth of 5 Meerkat kits, Lilo, Mushu, Grimsby, Basil and Fidget, brings the total Meerkat population at Tacoma, WA's Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium to 26. Each new kit is around as heavy as 2/3 of a cup of water! This is the zoo's second batch of kits this month. Zookeepers in the zoo’s Kids’ Zone area say at least one group of adults and kits will be on exhibit for at least half of the day during regular zoo hours.