Fota Wildlife Park announces the birth of three Meerkat babies, the first Meerkat births in over a decade.
Today Fota Wildlife Park unveiled three Meerkat (Suricata suricatta) babies who were born on the 19th of September to mother Biggy and father Snaggle and are calling on the public to help name them via the form below, to be in with a chance of winning one of three Conservation Annual Passes.
Mum Biggy, who was born on St. Patricks Day in 2021, came to Fota Wildlife Park with two other females in May of this year from DierenPark Amersfoort, the Netherlands. The dad, Snaggle came from Ardmore Open Farm to Fota Wildlife Park in July 2021 and is almost eight years old. All three females settled in well with Snaggle to form a new breeding group in the habitat they share with the Colobus monkeys, located just inside the main entrance to the Park. The last set of Meerkat babies were born in Fota in March 2013.
Lead Ranger, Teresa Power said “We were delighted to spot the babies out and about last month, they are so active in their habitat. We do not know yet whether the babies are male or female, as they are being well guarded by the other members of the mob and will immediately run underground and hide in one of the many tunnels they call home if they feel at all unsure about anything. However, they are being trained by our Rangers to come out for food when called and we plan to develop this further as they grow older, as part of Fota Wildlife Park’s training and enrichment programme. The babies also have access to an indoor heated house and can sometimes be seen through the viewing windows as they pop in and out of this area of their exhibit.
She continued, “They have become one of the highlights of our Rangers’ day with their highly amusing antics as they try to copy the more grown-up Meerkat activities, such as digging and alarm calling. Already they have been observed eating meat and mealworms which are the main parts of their diet.”
A favourite of visitors young and old, the Meerkat is a smaller member of the Mongoose family. Measuring up to 35cm in length and weighing up to 730grams, it has four long, strong claws on each paw to aid with burrowing and likes to stand on its hind legs from high vantage points when possible.
The Meerkat is a social and curious animal that lives underground in groups called mobs, gangs, or clans. Much of its time is spent digging and foraging for food including insects, roots, eggs, small reptiles, and scorpions – the Meerkat is immune to the latter’s poison unlike mankind.
Meerkats share the job of looking after their young. When born, the pups are mostly hairless and cannot see or hear. They generally open their eyes after two weeks and start to eat food other than milk a week later.
Fota Wildlife Park celebrated its 40th anniversary this June with a season of events and activities, this Halloween on the 31st of October, a face painter will be helping our younger visitors look more fearsome, strictly for ages three years plus from 12.30-3.30 pm in the Marquee. Watch out for a spooky witch who will go on walkabout on the afternoon of 31st October (12.30 to 4. 00 pm). Animal feeding times are running daily until the 5th November, please see www.fotawildlife.ie for details.
Image credits: Darragh Kane
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