Six fluffy bundles of joy have arrived at Taronga Western Plains Zoo in Dubbo, with the Zoo’s Meerkat mob welcoming its second litter of pups for 2023.
Mum Midra gave birth to six pups on Wednesday 2nd August, and while the pups are yet to be sexed or named, keeper Rez Onay said they’re doing well.
“Coming in each morning and seeing the pups, it’s the best part of the day,” Rez said.
“They’re very cute and our main job is watching the behaviour of the family, making sure everyone is happy and well and looking after the new arrivals.
“The family is doing a great job of looking after the pups, who are putting on weight and getting more active each and every day.”
These arrivals bring the total number of meerkats at the Zoo to 20, including 14 in the breeding group at The Waterhole. Parents Midra and Howell have their hands full, with 10 pups under six months of age.
“Meerkats can fall pregnant as soon as one week after giving birth, or once the pups are weaned at about eight weeks of age, so it’s not unusual for them to give birth again so soon,” Rez said.
“It’s really important in the meerkat mob for everyone to take turns babysitting; even the four pups we had earlier this year have taken on big brother and sister roles and are doing an amazing job looking after everyone, making sure that Mum and Dad are getting the food and rest that they need.”
The pups can now be seen in the meerkat habitat at The Waterhole, however the mob is protectively keeping them out of sight while they are so small – weighing just 70 grams!
“The best time to see the pups will be when they are about 4-5 weeks of age, when they’re a little bit more adventurous and exploring their exhibit!”
The Meerkats at Taronga Western Plains Zoo are ambassadors for their wild counterparts. While Meerkats are classed as ‘least concern’ by the ICUN, they still play a vital role in maintaining the ecological harmony of their desert homes by eating an insect rich diet.
Photos by: Karen James