20 September 2017

Meerkat triplets born at Canberra’s zoo

| Glynis Quinlan
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The three new meerkat pups. Photo supplied by the National Zoo & Aquarium.

Three adorable meerkat pups have been born at Canberra’s National Zoo & Aquarium, with the ‘triplets’ weighing in at just 150 grams each.

The pups – which are yet to be named – were born four weeks ago on August 21 but have been finding their feet before emerging from their burrow to meet the public.

They are the first meerkat pups to ever go on display at the zoo and were born to mum, Sekai and dad, Sergei.

Meerkat ‘triplets’. Photo supplied by the National Zoo & Aquarium.

“We’re so excited to have three meerkat pups here at the zoo. It’s wonderful to watch them explore their new surroundings and they’re always learning from their mum, dad and older siblings,” said the zoo’s operations manager, Renee Osterloh.

“At just four weeks old, they are still very tiny and the family are caring for them brilliantly and taking it in turns to ‘babysit’,” she said.

“As the pups are still young we haven’t named them as yet. In a couple of weeks keepers will take a closer look at the new arrivals and we will determine their gender. We will then ask the public for their input too, so watch this space!”

Renee said that the zoo will be hosting a competition to name the pups. As the names of all the family members start with the letter ‘s’, the zoo wants to give them names starting with the same letter.

Welcoming new babies to the zoo family. Photo supplied by the National Zoo & Aquarium.

Renee said that the gestation period for meerkats is around 11 weeks, after which two to five young are born in the burrow. The pups tend to remain in the burrow for three weeks, where they are ‘babysat’ by all members of the group.

At four weeks old, the pups begin to travel with the group on foraging bouts, and for the first three months they are fed by the helpers while also being taught how to catch their own food.

The Slender-tailed Meerkat hails from southern Africa and they live in a matriarchal society. While most mob members forage, some act as lookout sentries and are especially on the lookout for hawks and other aerial predators.

Photo supplied by the National Zoo & Aquarium.

Sentries tend to stand on their hind legs at vantage points such as rocks and mounds, which is one of the endearing behaviour traits enjoyed by visitors to the zoo.

Do you have any good ideas for names for the meerkat pups which start with ‘S’? Let us know in the comments below.

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