Did you know baby Meerkats can be called pups, kittens and sometimes cubs? But the most common name for them seems to be pups, most likely because their playful social nature is closest to our furry canine friends despite meerkats having ‘kat’ in their name.
For the first time at Billabong Zoo, zookeepers are praying for a puppy miracle after introducing a couple of new meerkats to the mob in hope to kick start their first meerkat breeding program.
It’s already looking promising, with one of the zoo’s original meerkats Kito, spotted cosying up to new girl Annika. Should they be successful, there is a possibility of their meerkat colony doubling or even tripling in size in the next 12 months, with an average of 3 to 4 pups in each litter.
Fun Fact: When meerkat pups are born, they’re only about the size of a jellybean, and are blind, deaf and hairless.
Sadly, if pups are born in the wild in a less favourable season, they may have a slim chance of surviving, so being raised in captivity zookeepers have the ability to control the temperatures of their burrows to give them more of a fighting chance.
Normally in the wild, meerkat’s have very little to do with raising their young, other members of the mob will usually nominate themselves as babysitters according to Billabong Zoo’s Operations Manager Blake Stone.
“It will be cool for visitors to be able to watch the other meerkats step up as godparents to the offspring and teaching them important life-skills. During the first couple of months of their life it’s a critical time, as the pups have to rapidly learn in a short period, because by the time their 7-8 weeks of age they are to be fully independent.”
The next few months could be a wild ride for Billabong Zoo, and you too can enjoy this special time by booking a personal animal encounter with our Meerkats online. Bookings are also available through the school holidays.