The kits were born to ‘Tilly’ the zoo’s alpha female. She is an experienced mother but at this stage the father is unknown. Meerkat keeper, Leonie Cusak explained why, “Normally alpha females will pair bond with one individual, but Tilly is a modern woman and has four boyfriends, although Taabu and Faraji, two of the adult males are normally the favoured two.”
“The four youngsters have just started venturing into the outside world at Perth Zoo’s African Savannah.”
“Their eyes have begun to open, so it’s certainly a time of exploration for them,” added Cusak.
Visitors to Perth Zoo will be able to see the meerkats but Cusak advises they should “bring a keen set of eyes, there could be a bit of hide and seek going on.” This is because there is always a sentry looking out for dangers such as human. When these are spotted they hide the babies away.
It turns out it’s mostly the males which are doing the caring, “To give Tilly a helping hand, the four adult males of the group have been doing a great job at babysitting. It’s actually quite funny to watch as they’re often the first to rush to the babies if they perceive a threat.”
““This certainly balances out Tilly’s casual approach to parenting. Having reared four successful litters, just like experienced human mothers, the more offspring she has, the more relaxed her parenting style becomes,” said Cusak.
In the coming weeks the meerkats will need to have a veterinary examination which will mean keepers can determine their sex.
Photo Credits: Perth Zoo