The Los Angeles Zoo Friday announced the birth of four “energetic” meerkat pups, bringing the total to eight in this particular “mob” or family.
Conceived during the zoo’s closure due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the pups were born May 30 spent the first two weeks of their lives tucked safely inside an underground burrow with their mother while they nursed. Their genders have not yet been identified by zoo staff.
“It’s been fascinating to watch this mob of meerkats bond and create their social structure since their arrival a few years ago,” said Rose Legato, the senior animal keeper at the Los Angeles Zoo. “Meerkat mobs can be fierce, so to see how this group has successfully come together to raise these new pups has been really exciting.”
According to animal care staff, the pups recently emerged from below and are starting to explore their habitat and enjoy the warm sun.
The adult meerkats in this mob arrived at the zoo in 2018 based on a recommendation from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums Species Survival Plan program.
The pint-sized animals are members of the mongoose family and have long been a favorite of guests, zoo officials said, possibly because of their expressive personalities and constant digging and sunbathing around their habitat.
The gestation period for meerkats is 11 weeks and they typically have two to five pups per litter. After three weeks, the young will first leave the burrows and they are weaned at six to nine weeks. By two months of age, the young meerkats look like adults.
Meerkats have a tannish, gray fur with black stripes across the back. The meerkat’s body has adapted for a life of digging with small black ears that can be folded back to keep dirt out and long, non-retractable claws used to create tunnels and holes.
The animals are native to the deserts and grasslands of the southern tip of Africa and they do well in temperate environments such as Los Angeles, where they have plenty of sunshine but not extreme temperatures in either direction.
While the Los Angeles Zoo is closed to the public until further notice, officials said they hope to reopen in July, and guests will be able to see the meerkat mob and their pups on exhibit.
For more information on the zoo’s reopening, the Los Angeles Zoo on social media @lazoo and online at www.lazoo.org/covid-19.
>> Want to read more stories like this? Get our Free Daily Newsletters Here!Follow us: