Zoo Osnabrück

Adventures in Babysitting for Meerkat Mob

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Zoo Osnabrück, in Germany, is home to four new Meerkat pups!

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Meerkats_ZooOsnabruck_1Photo Credits: Zoo Osnabrück

The youngsters were born September 2nd and are, now, wonderfully playful six-week-olds! ‘Mom’ and ‘Dad’ have their hands full but are assisted in babysitting duties by their elder offspring.

Meerkats are native to the Kalahari Desert in Botswana, much of the Namib Desert, southwestern Angola, and South Africa. They are members of the mongoose family and primarily insectivores, but Meerkats will also eat other small animals, reptiles, arachnids, birds and fungi.

Meerkats are small burrowing animals, living in large underground networks with multiple entrances which they leave only during the day. They are very social, living in colonies, known as ‘clans’ or ‘mobs’, of about 20-50 individuals.

Meerkats forage in a group with one ‘sentry’ on guard watching for predators while the others search for food. A Meerkat can dig through a quantity of sand equal to its own weight in just seconds.Baby Meerkats do not start foraging for food until they are about one month old, and do so by following an older member of the group who acts as the pup's tutor. The Meerkat standing guard makes peeping sounds when all is well. If the Meerkat spots danger, it barks loudly or whistles.

There are, currently, no major threats to the Meerkat, in the wild.  Their main predators are martial eagles and jackals. They occasionally succumb to snakebites from confrontations, as well. They are, at this time, classified as “Least Concern” on the IUCN Red List.

More awesome pics below the fold!

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Seal Pup Birth Long Awaited at Zoo Osnabrück

Seal HERO

In the early morning hours of July 4, Germany's Zoo Osnabrück welcomed the first Seal pup to be born there in five years. The little one with the coal- black eyes is already swimming with the others, but still likes to cuddle extensively with its mom, Bee. The sex has not yet been determined, so the baby has no name yet. 

"We are very pleased that the birth went so well. The baby is very attentive and swims very well," said head staff member Kirsten Bischoff. The 14-year-old mother has gotten through her third birth well. This was the first baby for six-year-old father Max, but Bee has not let him get close to the new baby. As soon as Bee sees Max, she protectively nudges the baby away.

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Seal kiss

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Photo Credit: Photo 1,3: Zoo Osnabrück, Photos 2, 4: Cindy Schrooten 

Keepers have left the two in peace thus far to bond so they don't have a weight yet, but they estimate the pup is between 22-26 pounds (10-12 kg), about one tenth of Mom's body weight. Seals nurse their young mostly on land, so Bee brings her baby on shore to feed. The pup will suckle for the first month or so before the mother's milk is supplemented with fish.