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.

Baby meerkat at Longleat Safari and Adventure Park one PIC Ian Turner
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


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.





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

1 meerkat

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. 

2 meerkat

3 meerkat

4 meerkat

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

1 meerkat

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!

2 meerkat

3 meerkat

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

Perth Zoo Meerkat kits2

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.

Perth Zoo Meerkat kits3

Perth Zoo meerkat kit_

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

1 meerkat

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.

2 meerkat

3 meerkat

4 meerkat

7 meerkat

5 meerkat

6 meerkatPhoto credits: Five Sisters Zoo

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

Playful Meerkat Trio Joins the Family at Zoo Heidelberg

Meerkat 1

Zoo Heidelberg's Meerkat family has grown again, for the second time this year. In early October, three pups were born. Born naked, blind and helpless, the pups have developed much over the past few weeks and now can be seen running around outside the den with the zoo's other 15 Meekats. The three young pups are very wild and playful, developing the skills that they would need in the wild to be successful foragers and hunters.

Meerkats, endemic to the desert of southern Africa, are members of the mongoose family. They live in social colonies in underground burrows and tunnels that help to protect them against the harsh sun. These groups always follow a structured system of rank: only the dominant male and female reproduce, while the others help out as babysitters. Some members of the colony act as scouts that cry out to warn each other if a predator, like a hawk, is spotted. Even though there aren't any serious predators at Heidelberg Zoo, the zoo's Meerkats still show this behavior.  

Meerkat 2

Meerkat 4

Meerkat 3

Meerkat 5Photo credits: Peter Bastian (1-4); Heidrun Knigge (5)

Although small, Meerkats are skilled hunters and can kill prey up to the size of a lizard or bird. At the zoo, the Meerkats are presented with a healthy variety of fruits as well as animal foods. Their favorite treat is a sprinkling of mealworms: they love to scratch and dig around until every last one has been found. 

Meerkat Pups Join the Family at Bioparc Valencia

1 meerkat

Bioparc Valencia in Spain is now home to five little Meerkat pups. Meerkats, endemic to the desert of southern Africa, are members of the mongoose family. They live in social colonies in underground burrows and tunnels that help to protect them against the day's scorching heat. Some members of the colony act as scouts that cry out to warn each other if a predator, like a hawk, is spotted. Meerkats will also babysit for each other as they are raising pups, protecting and sometimes even nursing each other's young. 

Meerkats can reproduce year-round, and may have up to four litters per year in the wild. Pups leave the den to explore at about three weeks old, and start to learn how to forage for and eat small animals and plants by watching and mimicking adults. It takes careful observation and practice to master the art of catching (and eating) scorpions!

2 meerkat

3 meerkatPhoto credits: Bioparc Valencia

See a video of the Meerkat family:

UPDATE! Meerkat Family Grows as Calgary Zoo Rebuilds

1 meerkats

Back in June, staff at Calgary Zoo in Alberta rushed to batten down the hatches during a flood. They rescued five meerkats from a damaged exhibit just in time. The zoo withstood terrible damage, but there was a bright spot too: one week later, on June 28, one of the rescued female meerkats gave birth to five little cubs. (See our original story about the rescue and birth here.)

At two months old, the five cubs are now healthy, adventurous, and growing like weeds. They haven't been named yet because it will take a checkup to determine the sexes of the pups. Their mother is doing an excellent job at raising her offspring, so caretakers have decided not to intervene with the family just yet, as everything appears to be going smoothly. 

Calgary Zoo is in the process of repairing and rebuilding after the extensive damage caused by the flood. If you'd like to help out with a donation, it's easy to do from the Calgary Zoo website!

2 meekats

3 meerkat

4 meerkat
Photo credits: Calgary Zoo

Meerkat Family Grows at Cotswold Wildlife Park


The Cotswold Wildlife Park has their hands full with eight Meerkat pups. Three of the pups, currently living in the porcupine exhibit, were born on May 31. The other five were born on June 19.

CWP 230_2013_07_06_107_edited-1

CWP 230_2013_07_06_101_edited-1

The name Meerkat comes from the Afrikaans words meaning "marsh cat". However, Meerkats are not related to cats, nor do they live in marshlands. Meerkats are social animals that live in large communities of 25 or more individuals. Communities live in burrows, composed of complex tunnel systems consisting of mounds, tunnels, and sleeping chambers. 

CWP 230_2013_07_06_092_edited-1
Photo Credit: Cotswold Wildlife Park