Slender-tailed Meerkats

HomeAnimalsSlender-tailed Meerkats

A group of meerkats is called a “mob” and the Zoo’s just keeps getting bigger, with litters born in 2012 and 2015.

LEO

  • Is the mob’s oldest male, sire of both the 2012 and 2015 litters
  • Is recognizable by his dark face and “uni-brow”

NEW KITS

  • Were born in May 2015 — three females and one male
  • Have not yet been named
  • Kept their number a surprise: keepers didn’t know how many kits were in the litter until they emerged from their underground burrow

JASIRI

MALIA

  • Were the first meerkat kits born at the Zoo since 1999
  • Are female siblings, born at the Zoo in March 2012
  • Were born in underground “birthing den,” where they stay until they are large enough to venture outdoors at around three weeks old

In memory of SARONGA

  • Was the oldest of the mob at age 11, when she was passed away due to congestive heart failure in February 2016
  • Had never bred, but was a “babysitter” to the kits born here
  • Arrived in Santa Barbara from San Diego Zoo in April 2010

From the Keeper

“Meerkats are very scent-oriented, and I like to give them enrichment that stimulates their olfactory senses. It can even be perfumes and cooking spices, so they can experience the new smells. Or it might be from other zoo animals, like straw or used hay from the lions or burlap from the Channel Island foxes. The best reaction I’ve seen was to wool sheared off of the barnyard sheep. The meerkats were all on high alert and they were cautious to approach it, as it was a novel scent for them. They didn’t know if it was safe or not.” -Rachel W.

Conservation Status

Meerkats are listed as “Least Concern” on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species because the species is widespread in southern Africa, and in several protected areas. However, their population can fluctuate greatly within the range and is influenced by rainfall and predation.

Stay on the Trail

Stay on marked trails when exploring natural areas. Many habitats, such as the desert, may look hardy but are actually quite fragile. Small changes in a habitat can make a big difference to the animals living within it.

Burrow Sweet Burrow

The underground colonies made by meerkats consist of two or even three levels of tunnels, interconnected with chambers of about one foot across, with up to 15 entrance holes. Though the individuals generally forage near the burrow, a colony can travel more than 3½ miles in a day looking for food. The Zoo’s meerkat exhibit is designed to allow for burrowing, but also for containment – it’s solid cement at six feet down.

It Takes a Village

Meerkats have one of the most complex social structures of any animal at the Zoo. Each individual has a distinct position within the group. Some spend their days foraging for food, others dig tunnels, and some females are babysitters. Sentries are important, as they take turns watching for predators. Is that an eagle?! If so, the sentry meerkat lets out a distinctive bark to warn the rest of the group to take cover.