We’re saying ‘so long’ to some members of our meerkat mob over the next few months as they leave for new homes. Soon, we hope to have baby meerkats for the first time in over four years!
This week, three male meerkats journeyed to a new home. Another six individuals will make their way to three different AZA-accredited facilities over the next few months. While it is tough saying goodbye to some of our meerkat friends, we rest assured knowing that they will be in good hands at their new homes.
All of these moves are based on recommendations under the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ Species Survival Plan (SSP) for meerkats and some of the individuals we are relocating are for potential breeding matches.
When our last litter of pups were born in 2018, we found that while our mob lives comfortably in their area, there was not adequate space for any new individuals. Because no AZA-accredited facilities were ready to receive new animals at this time, we decided to pause breeding for the time being.
Our breeding female, 8-year-old Cashew, was given a birth control implant after the birth of her last litter. It was recently removed by our veterinary team as we hope that she will breed with dominant male, 10-year-old Kirabo, in the near future. It is important to note that hormonal implants commonly have a lasting effect after removal, so it is likely that there will still be time until she is able to become pregnant.
Cashew and Kirabo are an important breeding pair for their SSP. Now that there is a need for meerkats throughout the AZA community, we can assist a number of institutions while also making space for our pair to breed again.
Meerkats have a unique social structure. Their mobs are typically made up of one breeding pair and their offspring. Many of Cashew and Kirabo’s former offspring still live here at the Zoo, making up part of the mob!
Meerkats have a gestation of around 11 weeks and females typically give birth to two to five pups per litter. They can even have several litters in one year! “Babysitting” duty is a shared responsibility when you’re a meerkat; many group members are a part of raising the young pups.
We hope that you’ll swing by our meerkat manor on your next visit. We’ll continue to keep you updated as these changes progress and (hopefully) when babies arrive!
Brevard Zoo is an independent, not-for-profit organization that receives no recurring government funding for our operating costs. Your generous support enables us to continue to serve our community and continue our vital animal wellness, education and conservation programs.