Crowds of visitors can be found jostling for space in front of the meerkat enclosure in Viennas' Schönbrunn Zoo. The reason for this is the three baby Meerkats with their black button eyes and snub noses that are beginning to discover their surroundings.
“The lively triplets were born on February 20th, but as Meerkats are blind and naked at birth they spend their first few weeks in the safety of their burrow” says Dagmar Schratter, the Zoo’s director, who is delighted about the offspring of this popular species. “With ten animals we now have a really extended meerkat family”
The three mini-meerkats are still being suckled by their mother but in a few weeks time the first insects will be added to their diet. The mother is not the only caregiver for the young animals. Meerkats live in social groups and each animal has clearly defined duties. Only a few days after their birth, a member of the clan assumes the role of “babysitter” and keeps an eye on the little ones while they play with each other, dig around in the sandpit or get up on their hind legs like tin soldiers. Meerkats belong to the mongoose family and live in the savannahs in the south of Africa.
At Taronga Western Plains Zoo, three Meerkat pups have recently started to emerge from the den under the watchful eye of mother, Umi, and father, Brock. The three pups are doing really well. They are very bold, and have started to venture out from their den much earlier than Taronga's previous litters. The older meerkats in the group are acting as good role models for the new-born pups. Mother Umi has now had three litters since arriving in November 2010. Including the new arrivals, this brings the zoo's total number of meerkats on display to 12. Did you know that the dark patches around meerkats' eyes lessen the desert glare and that their ears can close in the event of a sand storm?
New Zealand's Wellington Zoo welcomed a pair of Meerkat pups in January. The couplet is vivacious and healthy according to zoo officials. The birth of new Meerkats is a great opportunity for zoo visitors to observe how each Meerkat has special duties that benefit the group. The babysitters stay close to the burrow with youngsters under their care. The sentries will scan the horizon and sky for predators and the hunters will dig for food, some of which will be given to the young. The young will accompany the group on foraging trips from about 2 months.
Four little meerkat pups were born on October 31, at Wellington Zoo in New Zealand. Their mother is named Feta... but the father is unknown. Feta could have paried off with any one of the 5 males in the mob.
One of the babies first ventured out into the sunshine on exhibit with the others at only three weeks old. The rest of it's siblings stayed behind in the den. Meerkats are highly social and live groups called mobs, which made up of as many as three family groups (up to 30 individuals total). Each family group is made up of parents and their offspring.
Photo Credit: Wellington Zoo
Now over 6 weeks old, they all have been out in the yard. Not only that - they have gotten confident enough to attempt snagging their food right from the grown ups, as seen in the video below!
Last summer Marwell Wildlife Park in Hampshire, UK, built a new home for its meerkats and this allowed the park to introduce a breeding group. The meerkats are obviously very happy as they have had three meerkats born. The pups made an appearance last week and are delighting visitors with their playfulness!
This little Meerkat named Kingsley (after British explorer Mary Henrietta Kingsley) was born August 22 at Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium in Tacoma, WA. He spends most of his time tucked under his family members, mainly his mother, Darwin.
Meerkats are sexually mature at about one year. The females can have as many as three litters a year. There is no breeding season, and favorable conditions can lead to an increase in births. After an 11 week gestation, an average of three offspring are born. Babies are usually weaned between 49 and 63 days. Both mother and father may provide care to the offspring. Meerkats lifespan is from 5-15 years.
Meerkats are highly social and live groups called mobs, which made up of as many as three family groups (up to 30 individuals total). Each family group is made up of parents and their offspring. Kingsley is doing well and getting to know his extended family.
Photo Credit: Seth Bynum / Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium
There's the pitter patter of a lot of new paws at Taronga Western Plains Zoo in Dubbo, Australia. On July 24, keepers arrived at work to see that three Meerkat babies had come into the world. The pups have been in the den with their mother, Umi, and dad, Mapoto, tending to them, along with the subordinate maleBrock.
An experienced mother, Umi is doing a great job raising her offspring. The kits are now venturing out into the sun, exploring the habitat with mom and the other helpers in the mob, who are all working well together to ensure the pups are being properly cared for.
The pups will grow up fast reaching full size by about four months of age, so visitors should come out over the next couple of months to see these special new arrivals.
Keepers at Port Lympne Wild Animal Park near Ashford, United Kingdom, were delighted when they spotted that Tiggs, the matriarch of the Meerkat group at the wild animal park, was once again expecting. Tiggs had her first litter of three in April this year and on the June 28th keepers excitedly welcomed the latest additions to Tiggs’ growing ‘mob’.
Head Keeper Richard Barnes said: “I am delighted that Tiggs is such a good mum – I hand reared her when she was a kitten due to an illness, she recovered well and became strong and healthy and has now given birth to two healthy litters. The newborns are already playful and it’s hilarious to watch them teasing their siblings.”
At the end of May, four meerkat kits came into the world at Belfast Zoo in the UK.For the past four weeks, mom Fraggle has been caring for her babies in their underground burrow. But just a few days ago, the four kits emerged for the first time! They are enjoying the sunlight and beginning to explore their habitat with their parents.
Belfast Zoo manager, Mark Challis is delighted with the new arrivals, “The meerkats are definitely one of the most popular animals in the zoo and in the past few years we have had great success with our breeding group. In fact, last year several of our meerkats were transferred to other zoos in the UK and have since gone on to have their own young.”