A double dose of cuteness
Zoo News - Posted 20 February 2014
The little meerkats were born on 1 February, and have been quick to take part in the daily activities and routine of their extended family, says Hamilton Zoo Curator Samantha Kudeweh.
“They’re very playful and active, interested in their surroundings and already very involved in the daily life and routines of the zoo’s meerkat mob,” she says.
“It’s unusual for zoo staff to see baby meerkats in the first couple of weeks after their birth, but the signs are very good.
“We haven’t determined their gender yet, but we’ll know if they’re males or females in a few weeks, when we give them a full examination.”
Mrs Kudeweh says baby meerkats are extremely reliant on their mothers and other adults, and display many of the same juvenile traits as common domestic kittens. Baby meerkats will be cared for by a number of adults in the group, and Mrs Kudeweh says that’s been evident at Hamilton Zoo, where the male adult meerkats have been looking after the new arrivals
Meerkats mature and grow quickly, and are able to breed from one year old. Their natural environment is the dry arid areas of southern Africa, particularly the Kalahari Desert which extends into Botswana, South Africa and Namibia. They live to between 12 and 15 years, and were the focus of the British TV series Meerkat Manor, which has screened in New Zealand.
The two juvenile meerkats will stay at Hamilton Zoo for the medium term, and long-term plans for them will depend on regional breeding programmes for the species.