My birthday present from Anna this year was a meerkat encounter experience! I really enjoyed it, so I will tell you all about it and will post some pictures for you. If you would like, we could go there again together, so you could meet the meerkats too.
As you know from my previous posts, I really like meerkats and I think they are very cute little animals. I don’t know if you have watched a DVD about the meerkats (Meerkat Mannor) I sent you some time ago? If you have, you would know a bit about these little creatures.
While a few individuals guard the group, the rest busy themselves foraging for the foods. Meerkats will eat insects, lizards, birds, and fruit. Meerkat groups utilize several different burrows and move from one to another. Each burrow is an extensive tunnel-and-room system that remains cool even under the sun. Females give birth to two to four young each year in one of the group’s burrows. Fathers and siblings help to raise meerkat young, teaching them to play and forage and alerting them to the ever present danger from above.
So, what was my meerkat encounter experience? Well, it was an one hour meeting with a group of meerkats and their keeper. When we arrived, we were divided into groups of four people. Each group was assigned a different keeper and each keeper took their group to a different meerkat enclosure. I went to meet three meerkats living in an indoor enclosure. We went inside their ‘house’. The keeper introduced each meerkat to us, told us a little about each of them and we just kept chatting, asking questions and enjoying their furry company. They were used to people, so they were just walking around, smelling us and carrying on with their normal activities. The keeper gave us some fruits to feed the meerkats and explained that in the wild they mainly eat insects, but in captivity they are being fed with fruits and just a small portion of worms. Apparently worms provide a lot of nutritions and as meerkats in captivity don’t need to hunt and they are not as active as in the wild, they don’t need that much energy. Eating just worms would cause them to gain weight, which is never good for any creature’s health. So, we were giving them fruits (bananas, oranges, grapes, apples) and they were just taking them with their little claws and nibbling a bit. They are clever creatures however, so they knew that if they don’t eat their fruits, they will get some worms! After a small nibble they rejected the rest of the fruits and the keeper told us that this is about the time to give them some worms. He asked us to put couple of worms on the palm of our hand and lower the hand quickly to the ground, so meerkats can reach the food. Well, I have to tell you dear Atria, they love their worms! Sometimes I couldn’t lower my hand fast enough and the meerkats were already jumping on me to get the worms. They are very lively and active creatures, but the speed they were picking up the worms from our hands was incredible! When the worms ration finished meerkats started eating their fruits again - very clever.
The whole experience was wonderful, meerkats were as cute as ever and the keepers were very knowledgeable, open, friendly and responsive. I very much enjoyed my birthday present.
Here you can learn a bit more about the meerkat encounter experience.