Seven meerkats joined the Los Angeles’ Zoo’s meerkat manor in January 2018 and September 2017. They will make their first public appearance today. Zoo officials said they hope to rebuild the zoo’s meerkat population with these new additions from Zoo de Granby in Granby, Quebec and the Sedgwick County Zoo in Wichita, Kansas.
Visitors can see the meerkats bonding with each other, establishing a community structure, and digging a maze of holes and tunnels. The intricate system of burrows, which they dig with long, sharp claws, helps keep them safe from predators and shelter them from the elements. Meerkats are known to communicate well and work together. They also assign a guard to watch for predators and alert others of a potential threats by barking.
“They’re very charismatic,” said Rose Legato, senior animal keeper at the L.A. Zoo. “People enjoy watching their curious nature.”
These mammals are native to the deserts and grasslands of the southern tip of Africa, and they do well in temperate environments such as Los Angeles where they have plenty of sunshine but not extreme temperatures in either direction. The meerkats at the L.A. Zoo eat a diet consisting of produce, mice, crickets, mealworms, hard boiled egg and nutritious insectivore pellets.
Legato said the Zoo staff hopes the new meerkats will eventually breed. The meerkats, Pauly, Sonny, Fredo, Frankie, Dolores, Mildred and Janie, were all deemed healthy and are part of the AZA Species Survival Plan® (SSP) Program which aims to manage and conserve a select and typically threatened or endangered, ex situ species population with the cooperation of accredited institutions.
“I’ve been working with meerkats for many years, but this would be my first time with a mob that could potentially raise pups,” Legato said in a news release. “My staff and I are excited to learn more about this new group, and more importantly, share the journey with our zoo patrons.”
The L.A Zoo is located in Griffith Park at the junction of the Ventura (134) and Golden State (5) freeways. Admission is $21 for adults and $16 for children ages 2 to 12. The Zoo is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. For information, call (323) 644-4200 or visit www.lazoo.org.