Taronga Zoo’s Meerkat mob continues to grow, with keepers celebrating the birth of the second litter of pups this year.
The two pups were born on 18 August, but have just started venturing outside their nest box to explore Taronga’s African-themed Meerkat exhibit this week.
“They were eager to investigate their new surroundings. These pups are more confident and adventurous than the previous litter and I think that’s because they have mum, dad and two siblings to support and protect them,” said Keeper, Courtney Mahony.
This is the second litter for parents Nairobi and Maputo, following the birth of male Lwazi and female Serati in January.
“They are fantastic and attentive parents, but it’s also been wonderful to watch big sister Serati play a role in caring for the pups. She’s grooming them, helping to babysit and always checking on them to make sure they’re safe. It’s incredible to see such a young Meerkat stepping up and taking on that responsibility,” said Courtney.
The sex of the pups will be confirmed next month when they have their first veterinary examination, but keepers suspect they are both female. Keepers have started to do quick hands on health checks and are weighing the pups regularly to ensure they are healthy and comfortable in their presence.
The yet-to-be-named pups are developing quickly. Despite only weighing a few grams when born, they both now tip the scales at over 150 grams and have begun to sample solid foods, such as mealworms and vegetables.
“As of this week they’re eating most of the adult diet. Mum and dad will collect insects for them and they’re starting to nibble on some fruit and veggies. They’re also learning to dig and stand on their hind legs for sentry duty,” said Courtney.
Native to southern Africa, Meerkats have adapted to living in places with very harsh conditions, little water, limited food and many predators, such as the Kalahari Desert. They have ears that can close in the event of a sandstorm and dark patches around their eyes to lessen the desert glare like sunglasses.
Visitors will start to see the newest additions to Taronga’s Meerkat manor for short periods each day, as the pups are slowly introduced to the outside world under the watchful eyes of their parents and keepers.