Posted on 02nd July 2019 by Media Relations
World Meerkat Day is this week and with 15 Meerkats at Taronga Western Plains Zoo we have 15 reasons to celebrate. You may have seen our family of nine who live on the Meerkat exhibit, but we also have six Meerkats who currently live behind-the-scenes.
The group that live in our main exhibit consists of nine siblings (five girls and four boys), and are governed by dominant female ‘Mwali’ who is almost eight years old. The life expectancy of Meerkats in the wild is only eight years old, but in zoo-based environments like Taronga Western Plains Zoo Meerkats can reach over 14 years. Mwali has had to fight her way through the hierarchy to the dominant position and despite multiple challenges from her sisters, she has managed to maintain her title.
Our other group of six Meerkats are currently living behind-the-scenes, awaiting their new home to be constructed at the new Waterhole café and water play area, opposite where the Midway Kiosk is currently. This group consists of dominate female ‘Toto’ who is the sister of the Meerkats from our exhibit and ‘Xhosa’ who was born at Perth Zoo. Together this pair has produced seven pups in the last couple of years, three of which now live in Zoos in Queensland.
With 15 Meerkats, keepers have their hands full. Meerkats have such a fast metabolism that we have to feed them more than four times a day! They are omnivores, feasting on meat, vegetables and their favourite insects!
This year to celebrate World Meerkat Day our Meerkats will be given some enrichment treats at our daily keeper talk and visitors will have the chance to learn more about this exciting species. We are also encouraging people to take their own ‘Sentry Selfie’ and uploaded it to social media with #sentryselfie. Sentry Duty is when a Meerkat stands on a high point in their territory and looks around to keep the group safe from predators.
You can catch the keeper talk at 9:50am daily.
By Meerkat Keeper Karen James.