The Royal Zoological Society of Scotland’s (RZSS’S) Edinburgh Zoo has welcomed five meerkat pups and five Darwin’s rhea chicks in the past month. Visitors are enjoying watching the antics of the youngsters.
Mum Queen and her five meerkat pups have been keeping to their inside enclosure where they can be seen with their siblings. The entire meerkat mob chips in to help raise the pups. Queen had three pups last year.
Team Leader of Giant Pandas and Carnivores for RZSS Edinburgh Zoo, Alison Maclean said, “The meerkats have always been a firm favourite with our visitors and they especially love it when they have pups. Visitors have been gathering around Meerkat Plaza to try catch a glimpse of the tiny pups, who are never far from all their family.”
This is also the second time that the zoo has bred Darwin’s rhea. Last year they had a group of nine chicks which you can see here – Endangered rhea chicks hatch at Edinburgh Zoo| The Animal Facts. Edinburgh was very excited to have achieved this as it is rare for this species to be bred in UK. Zoo’s Last year keeper’s incubated the eggs but they chose to leave it to the dad this year. He was successful and is now looking after the chicks.
Bird team leader at RZSS Edinburgh Zoo , Colin Oulton said, “We are really delighted we have had a second lot of Darwin’s rhea chicks. They are incredibly hard to breed and rear to maturity, so we are pleased with the successful hatching of these five chicks. They are all doing very well and enjoy running around after their parents.”
Darwin’s rheas come from South America. Currently they are listed as a least concern species but their relative the Puna Rhea is near threatened. Captive rhea act as ambassadors for their wild cousins.
“Our chicks from last year are now all grown up and have moved to other zoos where they will be part of the International Breeding Programme, as the Darwin’s rhea is an ESB (European Studbook species.”
Darwin’s rhea was discovered by Charles Darwin on the second voyage of the HMS Beagle in 1833. His party was eating one of the birds when he realised that it is a new species.
Photo Credit: RZSS Edinburgh Zoo