Meerkat

Meet Frick and Frack, Point Defiance Zoo's Newest Additions

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The Meerkat gangs at Point Defiance Zoo have grown again, and the newest kits – Frick and Frack – are now on exhibit in the Kids' Zone. The two were born to mom Darwin on Feb. 3 and weigh about 140 and 150 grams. That’s around 5 to 6 ounces -- about the same as two-thirds of a cup of water! They will grow to be about 1.5 to 2 pounds each and will measure approximately 14 inches long, not counting the length of their tails.

Meerkats are very social animals, and live together as families known as gangs. Each gang at the Zoo is referred to by the dominant female’s name. So Frick and Frack bring the number of Meerkats in the Darwin gang to seven. There are two other gangs - the Amelia gang of nine and the Huxley gang of five. Each assume roles within the group; Darwin has had help from one or more "babysitters" in the gang, who look after the new babies as they explore and adapt to the habitat. Meerkats belong to the mongoose family and live in the savannahs in the south of Africa.

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Photo Credit: Point Defiance Zoo

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One Masked Baby Meerkat Peeks Out from Behind Mom at Chester Zoo

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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.

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Photo Credit: Chester Zoo


Three Tiny Meerkat Pups Get a Foster Mom

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Christmas came a little early at the UK's Dartmoor Zoological Park when three adorable Meerkat pups were born just before last month's holiday. Adults Sue and Timon arrived at the zoo in the spring of 2010 and while they settled in well, they left keepers waiting for the kits they were hoping for despite the fact that Sue was an experienced mother.

Things started to take a positive turn when the zoo received another female named Xena this past summer. "We were apprehensive because meerkats are very territorial, but we were very careful and it seemed to work," said operations manager George Hyde.

Xena certainly seems to be getting along just fine with Timon and gave birth to their three offspring, a male and two females, just before Christmas. Sue, being an experienced mother, immediately began helping with mothering duties. Xena shouldn't mind the help caring for her dependents who, like all Meerkats, didn't open their eyes or ears for close to two weeks after birth.

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Photo credits: Steve Haywood / Dartmoor Zoological Park

The tiny trio has been out on exhibit for visitors to admire since early January. Keepers are currently working on coming up with names for their newest arrivals and are taking suggestions from the public. Be sure to contact them with any ideas!


Meerkat Pups Emerge From the Den at Taronga Zoo

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Two Meerkat pups born on December 15 at the Taronga Western Plains Zoo are emerging from the den to explore their surroundings. This is the fifth litter of pups for their mother, Umi, who keeps a close watch on her adventurous pups.

Keepers named the female pup Zola, meaning “love,” and the male Kato, meaning “second born of twins” in an African language.  “The two Meerkat pups are doing well and Umi is displaying all the right maternal behaviours, which is great to see,” said zoo keeper Karen Ellis.

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Photo Credits:  Taronga Zoo

Both Umi and the father, Maputo, play an important role in rearing the pups.  Other members of the Meerkat troop pitch in to care for and protect the pups as they grow.  The zoo’s Meerkat troop now numbers 11 individuals.

Native to southern Africa, Meerkats live in large family groups within underground burrows.  Members of the group take turns acting as sentries, standing upright at the burrow entrance to warn others of threats.  When danger approaches, the sentry barks a warning, alerting the group to seek shelter in the burrow. 


Meerkats Abound at Cleveland Zoo

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Cleveland Metroparks Zoo
is alive with the pitter patter of really teeny tiny feet! The zoo’s resident Meerkat mom recently gave birth to several kits.  The zoo staff is unsure how many kits are in the litter, but suspects they were born around August 26.  Mother Meerkat has been keeping her babies hidden in a tunnel den, mostly out of view of staff members and the public.

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“We decided it would be better for the health and welfare of the kits to not disturb them by entering the exhibit and allow them time to bond with their mother,” Curator of Animals Andi Kornak said. “Consequently, we are not sure exactly how many of them there may be total, but we do have visual confirmation on three individuals.”

Meerkat kits in the wild are kept hidden in the mob’s tunnel system to protect them from predators. They are tended to by several members of the mob, not just their mother, who act as baby-sitters or wet nurses. A Meerkat typically gives birth to between one and five kits. The kits normally begin exploring outside the den at about 3-4 weeks old.

Meerkats are native to southern Africa, including Angola, Botswana, Namibia and South Africa. In the wild they forage for insects are other small creatures including scorpions and spiders.

Photo credit:  Joe Yachanin/Cleveland Metroparks Zoo

Get the First Look at Dublin Zoo's Baby Meerkat Duo!

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Dublin Zoo has announced the arrival of two Meerkat pups to their family of four adults. Although the pups were born in July, visitors are only now getting their first glimpse of them, as mom and dad kept the pups hidden in burrows during the early stages of their lives. Throughout this period, their parents and two aunts kept watch over those secret passages, calling out and warning each other if there were any signs of danger or predators nearby. This is typical of Meerkats who demonstrate altruistic behavior within their colonies, where one or more Meerkats stand guard to warn others of approaching dangers.

Eddie O’Brien, team leader, said, “We are delighted with the arrival of the pups. It has been some time since Meerkats were born at the Zoo, so these are a welcome additions. We think the youngsters are female." Both pups are doing very well. They are still feeding from their mother but recently have also started eating solids.

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Meerkats are small mammals belonging to the mongoose family. They are found in various parts of southern Africa including the Kalahari Desert in Botswana, the Namib Desert in Namibia, southwestern Angola and South Africa. Primarily insectivores, they can also eat eat lizards, snakes, scorpions, spiders, eggs, small mammals, millipedes, centipedes and, more rarely, small birds. 

Visitors can see the Meerkat pups in the Meerkat Restaurant at Dublin Zoo.

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Photo Credit: Dublin Zoo


More Mischievous Meerkats at Taronga Zoo!

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The Taronga Zoo's Meerkat troop is growing with the addition of two new pups!  The new arrivals were born during Australia's winter season. 

Taronga's Meerkat mob maintains a strong hierarchy, with Bob taking on the role of alpha male.  Kenya and Pretoria alternate as dominant females.  As the alpha, it is Bob's job to settle the many daily disputes, both small and large, that take place within the troop.  You can be sure that Bob will play a role in disciplining these two curious youngsters as they learn their role in the troop.

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Meerkats are native to southern Africa, where they inhabit the Namib and Kalahari deserts.  They feed on insects and small animals.  Most young in a mob are the offspring of the dominant pair.  Meerkats spend most of the day foraging for food, then move into undergournd burrows at night.  One Meerkat will usually stand guard as a sentry to watch for danger while the mob is searching for food.

Photo Credit:  Taronga Zoo


A Meerkat Mom Shows Her Mothering Skills

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At the UK's Dudley Zoological Gardens, three tiny Meerkat pups have been spotted exploring their surroundings, after opening their eyes for the first time this week. The triplets were born in one of the underground burrows around three weeks ago and made their public debut yesterday to join DZG's eight-strong mob of adults. A child's pacifier was dropped into the Meerkat enclosure and quickly picked up by their mother and brought over to the young pups!

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Photo credit: Dudley Zoological Gardens

Newborn Meerkats are unable to open their eyes for around two weeks and stay close to the burrows, usually with an adult meerkat who has been chosen as the group's babysitter. Keepers will have to wait until the babies are eight weeks old to discover their sex.


Four New Meerkat Pups a Hit at Blackpool Zoo

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Four Meerkat pups are fast becoming the star attraction at Blackpool Zoo after being born last month. Their mother arrived from the Cotswolds Wildlife Park in January 2012 and became pregnant within months. Keepers were thrilled to find the four pups doing well and feeding from mum on the morning of July 4 after an 11 week gestation period. 

Sofie Fawzy, Senior Mammal Keeper at Blackpool Zoo, said: “Meerkats have gone from virtual obscurity to super stars in the past three years here at the zoo, and we are really pleased to welcome the four tiny pups to our meerkat family. Meerkat adoptions have gone through the roof and there is always a crowd watching the comical creatures."

Over the next two months the babies will become more and more independent, becoming fully weaned and eating solids withing 49 to 63 days. Blackpool Zoo’s Meerkat mob is fed on a diet of chicken, mice, beef chunks, mealworms and fruit and vegetables. In the wild, Meerkats live in the deserts and grasslands of the southern tip of Africa.

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Photo Credit: Blackpool Zoo


Meerkat Madness: Six Masked Babies!

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Keepers at Paradise Wildlife Park in Hertfordshire in the UK were stunned after one of their Meerkats gave birth to six pups in one litter. It's an incredibly rare occurrence -- a normal litter is between two and four kits -- and it's even more unusual that their mom, Twig, is successfully raising them all. What's more, she gave birth to two babies just two months ago, and to another one two months before that!

Meerkat keeper Jessie Croone said, “I came in early to check on them last week, and when I lifted the lid off of their nest box, I had the shock of my life. There was just a mass of baby meerkats! I couldn't even count them all at first, there were so many!”

Slender-tailed meerkats live in large family groups called mobs in their native habitat of the Kalihari and Namib deserts. Mobs are matriarchal and are run by one breeding pair. The top female is the only female in the group permitted to breed, but all of the others in the group help to raise the young. Meerkats have risen massively in popularity in recent years, from exposure as Alexandr in the car insurance marketing campaign and television programs such as Meerkat Manor.

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Photo Credit: Paradise Wildlife Park

More meerkat pictures and information after the jump:

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