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May 2004
Meerkat pups born at Tropical World
ian King snake
Two meerkat pups born at Tropical World

Spring is here and the staff at Tropical World are celebrating a couple of cheeky new arrivals for the meerkat family.

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FACTS

Although the name meerkat means marsh cat, they actually live in deserts and bush and they are a type of mongoose.

The Latin name for meerkats is Suricata suricatta. They grow to around 12 inches (30 cm).

Meerkats are born with hair but not full coats and with their eyes closed. In the wild they live for 10 years.

They spend much of the day digging in the sand for food. Meerkats also adore sunbathing!

They are extremely sociable and have evolved a society that allows some members to forage for food while the others keep guard.

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See the meerkats at Tropical World

Two weeks ago two baby meerkats were born into the meerkat family that live in the desert house at Tropical World. This is the first week that the adults have bought the new babies outside for visitors to see as they had been keeping them within the safety of their burrows.

The two-week old bundles of fluff (named Gary and Dave after the supervisors) can be seen playing games with the adults and already love being the centre of attention.

adult meerkat
An adult stands on duty

Meerkats are very mischievous and often stand on watch to guard against predators.

Each pup will be taken on by and adult meerkat which will act as a mentor, teaching food foraging techniques among other things. Meerkat skills are taught rather than instinctual.

The meerkats who originate from the Kalahari Desert in South Africa have lived at Tropical World for two years and have managed to increase their numbers from two in 2002 to 12 in 2004.

Tropical World has a strong conservation policy and breeding programme for endangered species.

Visitor services manager Carol Fenner says: "We are delighted with the new meerkat pups. This is great result for the breeding programme at Tropical World. We are hoping that the golden tamarins and the sugarglides (monkeys) might also breed this year."

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