Cleveland Metroparks Zoo's African Elephant Crossing is now alive with the pitter patter of really teeny tiny feet! The Zoo's resident meerkat mom recently gave birth to several kits.
The kits are estimated to have been born out on exhibit August 26 and the mother has been keeping them hidden in a tunnel den, mostly out of view of Animal Care staff members and the public.
"We decided it would be better for the health and welfare of the kits to not disturb them by entering the exhibit and allow them time to bond with their mother," Curator of Animals Andi Kornak said. "Consequently, we are not sure exactly how many of them there may be total, but we do have visual confirmation on three individuals."
Meerkat kits in the wild are kept hidden in the mob's tunnel system to protect them from predators. They are tended to by several members of the mob, not just the mother, who act as baby-sitters or wet nurses. A meerkat typically gives birth to between one and five kits. The kits normally begin exploring outside the den at about 3-4 weeks old.
The Zoo's mob of five meerkats, a breeding male and female and their three offspring, came to Cleveland from the Red River Zoo in Fargo, North Dakota in December 2011.
Meerkats (Suricata suricatta) are native to southern Africa, including Angola, Botswana, Namibia and South Africa. In the wild they forage for insects are other small creatures including scorpions and spiders.
Northeast Ohio's most-visited year-round attraction, Cleveland Metroparks Zoo is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. Admission is $12.25 per person, $8.25 for kids ages 2 to 11 and free for children younger than 2 and Zoo members. Parking is free. Located at 3900 Wildlife Way, the Zoo is easily accessible from Interstates 71, 90 and 480.
To learn more, visit clemetzoo.com or call (216) 661-6500.