Meerkat

Meet Blackpool's Newborn Meerkat Pups

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A litter of Meerkats was born at the United Kingdom’s Blackpool Zoo on March 6! The teensy pups were photographed before they had even opened their eyes.

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10540607_10152852711433392_8059006185792184401_oPhoto Credit:  Blackpool Zoo

Meerkat litters usually contain two to five pups, which are born in an underground burrow.  Members of the troop pitch in to cooperatively raise the young.  For the first three weeks of life, the pups remain in the burrow.

When the pups are about four weeks old, they start to accompany their group on foraging runs, where they eventually learn to capture insects and other invertebrates to eat.  The pups become mature at about one year old.

Well known for their highly social behavior, Meerkats dig elaborate burrow systems to house their group of up to 50 individuals.  Meerkats rely a group member to act as a sentry, usually stationed on an elevated mound or rock, to keep a lookout for danger.  Meerkats have a vast repertoire of calls, grunts, and barks to alert group members to different types of threats.  Certain alarm calls will send the Meerkats into the burrow for protection.

Found in southern Africa, Meerkats are plentiful and not listed as Endangered or Threatened. 

 


It’s All About that Pumpkin

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Pumpkins are everywhere, this time of year! They make great pies, Jack-O-Lanterns, and pretty awesome enrichment toys for zoo animals. Happy Halloween from ZooBorns!

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Photo Credits: Tammy Spratt/San Diego Zoo Safari Park (Image 1: African Lion Cub); Amiee Stubbs Photography (Image 2: "Charlie" the Porcupine at Nashville Zoo); Lincoln Children's Zoo (Image 3: "Lincoln" the Red Panda); ZooAmerica (Image 4: "Rainier" the Mountain Lion); Zoo Vienna Schönbrunn (Image 5: Elephants); Sue Ogrocki (Images 6-Gorilla,7-Red River Hogs,10-Galapagos Tortoise at Oklahoma City Zoo and Botanical Gardens); Minnesota Zoo (Image 8: Lynx); The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens (Image 9: Meerkats)

More great pumpkin pics below the fold!

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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!

Continue reading "Adventures in Babysitting for Meerkat Mob" »


New Meerkats Join the Mob

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Four new Meerkat “kits” were born September 26th, at Point Defiance Zoo in Tacoma, Washington!  They’ll be on exhibit for the first time during the “Zoo Boo” event, occurring, at the zoo, this weekend, October 18th and 19th

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10661961_10152494376634624_2497394806536504099_oPhoto Credits: Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium

The four babies bring the Meerkat total to 21, for the zoo. The little ones weigh just 90 grams, which is comparable to about a half-cup of M&Ms candy!

Meerkats, 'Suricata suricatta', are native to the Kalahari Desert in Botswana, much of the Namibian Desert, southwestern Angola, and South Africa. They are small, diurnal, group-living carnivores belonging to the Herpestid family (mongooses). Primarily insectivores, they will, however, also eat smaller animals, arachnids, small birds, and fungi.

Meerkats are sexually mature at about one year and breed year-round. After an 11 week gestation, females give birth to an average of 3 offspring. Females can have as many as 3 litters a year. Babies are usually weaned between 49 and 63 days. Both parents, as well as non-breeding helpers, provide care to the offspring.

Meerkats are highly social. A meerkat group, known as a “mob" "clan" or "gang," may include as many as three family groups (up to 30 individuals). Each family group is made up of parents and their offspring. Mobs live in burrows consisting of elaborate tunnel systems with multiple entrances. Their dark skin and hair help them absorb heat. When it's time to eat, one adult stays with the young as a "babysitter" while the rest of the mob forages by digging in soil and grass or overturning rocks. They will also take turns doing other jobs, including "sentry," "teacher" and "hunter."

Meerkats are currently listed as “Least Concern” on the IUCN Red List.


Baby Meerkat Emerges from the Burrow at Longleat

Baby meerkat at Longleat Safari and Adventure Park two PIC Ian TurnerA baby Meerkat is making its first public appearance at the United Kingdom’s Longleat Safari & Adventure Park.

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Baby meerkat and adult at Longleat Safari and Adventure Park PIC Ian TurnerPhoto Credit:  Ian Turner
 

Although born in May, the pup has spent the last two months inside an underground den with first-time parents Cassie and Pipsqueak.  This week, the baby is venturing outside for the first time!

“It’s been a long wait but the pup is now loving the outside and can be regularly spotted alongside the six other adults in this group,” said Longleat’s Darren Beasley.  “All the older Meerkats take turns in keeping watch over the baby and share any tasty bugs that they find.”   Keepers don’t know the baby’s gender yet.

Baby Meerkats are born virtually naked and helpless with their eyes closed. They spend the first weeks of life underground and are completely reliant on their mother’s milk.  Once they begin venturing outside, they stay close to their burrows under the watchful eye of a Meerkat babysitter.

At around two months of age the pups, although still nursing, will start foraging for insects and other food items with the rest of the group but it can take up to 16 weeks for them to be completely weaned.

Native to southern Africa, Meerkats spend much of their day sunbathing.  Lying on their backs, their dark-skinned, sparsely-furred bellies act as 'solar panels' to warm them up.

Meerkats have a wide vocabulary with a variety of alarm calls. Meerkats are relatively long-lived, particularly in captivity where individuals can live for up to 12 years or more.


Five Baby Meerkats Arrive Mob-handed at Chester Zoo

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At the UK's Chester Zoo, five baby meerkats have taken their first steps into the outside world. 

The tiny newcomers made their first public appearances after being hidden away in burrows by their parents since being born on April 20.

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Team manager Dave White said:



“All of the pups are full of rough and tumble. They’re a real handful for mum, dad and the other adults in the mob who, between them, are doing their best to keep them in check.



“At the moment our new quintet are much too small to sex but we should know if they’re male or female in the next couple of weeks.”



The meerkats come hot on the heels of other new arrivals at the zoo. A rare baby warty pig and two warthog piglets have also made their debuts in recent weeks.  


Meerkat Pups Appear at Brevard Zoo

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The Meerkat mob at Florida's Brevard Zoo is growing! The alpha male and female, Jasper and Kiki, have a new litter of pups, born about a month ago. But they've stayed mostly underground so far, and zoo officials aren't sure how many pups there are yet. The first sighting occured on April 14, when one little pup ventured outside the burrow only to be pulled back inside by mom. Since then, there have been some sporadic sightings. 

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5 meerkatPhoto credit: Brevard Zoo 

Keepers suspected that Kiki was pregnant when the new Meerkat exhibit opened on March 15, and had their suspicions confirmed a few weeks later when she appeared aboveground, suddenly looking a lot smaller. The babies have not yet been rounded up for a health check, but so far, everybody who's been sighted seems normal. 


UPDATE! Meerkats Surprise Staff at Five Sisters Zoo

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Last April, Five Sisters Zoo in Scotland was damaged by a terrible fire that not only destroyed their tropical house and 48 different species of small mammals and reptiles, but also the indoor meerkat house, killing 11 members of their meerkat family.  

At the beginning of November, keepers saw two meerkat kits emerge from the burrow – a true sign that the remaining meerkat pair had fully recovered from their trauma.  November in Scotland was not an ideal time to have young, but they are such resilient creatures that the babies have thrived ever since. 

Two weeks ago, two more kits emerged from the burrow, much to the delight of all the staff at the zoo!

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4 meerkatPhoto credit: Five Sisters Zoo / Lesley Coupar

Before the two additional kits made their appearance, a FaceBook appeal for name ideas generated hundreds of suggestions. The two most popular names were chosen: Alex, named for one of the first firemen on the scene at the zoo (who is also their postman by day), and Poppy, the flower of Remembrance Day, when the two pups emerged. The new additions have yet to be named. 

A new home for the meerkat family is nearly complete. It is located beside the site for their tropical house and will also house two porcupines and a new giant African Spurred Tortoise called Chad, who is 31 years old.  The meerkats should move into this new habitat within the next couple of weeks.

For more photos, see our story about the first two kits.


Meerkat Kits at Perth Zoo

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Perth Zoo has three new residents. These super-cute meerkat kits were born on February 15 and are just starting to explore their home in the Zoo’s African Savannah.

The trio kept to their nest box for the first three weeks but recently began venturing out and playing with the adults and older siblings in their 13-strong meerkat clan.

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Perth Zoo Meerkat Kits March

Photo credits: Perth Zoo

“All of the adult males in the group have been helping mum, Tilly, by sharing the babysitting duties,” Perth Zoo exotics keeper Kaelene McKay said.

“The sex of the kits will be determined at their first health check and vaccination next month.

“The kits are absolutely gorgeous and it’s a real treat to watch them playing together.”

Perth Zoo has two meerkat colonies in its African Savannah.

Found in southern African, meerkats are members of the Mongoose family. They are extremely social animals but are highly territorial and will fiercely defend their home from other meerkat mobs.

In the wild, appointed meerkat sentries keep a look-out for predators while other group members forage for food.

The sentries stand on their hind legs to get a good view of approaching predators and when a threat is spotted, the sentries let out an alarm call and the group dives into its burrow.


After Fire, Meerkat Family Grows at Five Sisters Zoo

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Five Sisters Zoo in Scotland is celebrating the birth of two baby Meerkats. The pups made their first public appearance on November 12, at two weeks old. It is especially good news after the damaging fire that occurred at the zoo in April. Meerkat mom, Annie, suffered burns on her face but has made a great recovery, and is now settled and content with her two new babies and her mate, Phoenix. It is wonderful to see the zoo's Meerkat family growing!

Five Sisters Zoo is looking for name ideas. You can submit your suggestions at the Zoo's Facebook page. (Bear in mind that keepers aren't sure what sex the two babies are yet!)

Click here if you would like to make a donation to the zoo's Fire Fund, to help them rebuild and recover.

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The pups bond with dad (photo 6) and mom (photo 7).