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Meerkat infants born at Perth Zoo

The pitter-patter of tiny feet can be heard at Perth Zoo with the recent birth of four tiny Meerkat kits.

Meerkat Keeper, Leonie Cusack, said:  “The four youngsters have just started venturing into the outside world at Perth Zoo’s African Savannah.” The kits were discovered by Perth Zoo Keepers, snuggled with alpha female ‘Tilly’ in the birthing den on 13th November 2014.

“Their eyes have begun to open, so it’s certainly a time of exploration for them.”

The infants were born to experienced mother Tilly, but the father is unknown at this stage.

“Normally alpha females will pair bond with one individual, but Tilly is a modern woman and has four boyfriends, although Taabu and Faraji, two of the adult males are normally the favoured two,” said Leonie.

“This certainly balances out Tilly’s casual approach to parenting. Having reared four successful litters, just like experienced human mothers, the more offspring she has, the more relaxed her parenting style becomes.”“To give Tilly a helping hand, the four adult males of the group have been doing a great job at babysitting. It’s actually quite funny to watch as they’re often the first to rush to the babies if they perceive a threat.”

Over the next couple of weeks, Zoo visitors will be amongst the first to welcome Perth Zoo’s new arrivals into the world, but with a Meerkat sentry on guard at all times, the adults will often stash the infants away for safe keeping.

“Bring a keen set of eyes, there could be a bit of hide and seek going on,” said Leonie.

At roughly six weeks of age, the infants will receive their first hands on veterinary examination, giving Zoo keepers the chance to determine their sex.

Meerkats are native to southern Africa and can be found in the Kalahari Desert. They have adapted to living in very harsh conditions and climate, with little water, food and many predators.  They have ears that can close in the event of a sand storm and dark patches around their eyes lessen the desert glare like sunglasses.

Meerkats enjoyed a surge in public interest after the Meerkat hero ‘Timon’ debuted in ‘The Lion King’. Perth Zoo is committed to conservation and educating people about the remarkable animals of the African Savannah like the Meerkats and expects many visitors will want to become a Zoo Parent and adopt the Meerkats or perhaps give an adoption package as a wild Christmas present.

Media Contact: Danielle Henry, Perth Zoo Media Manager
Ph: 08-9474 0383 M: 0438 950 643 E: danielle.henry@perthzoo.wa.gov.au 

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