Thursday, March 26, 2009

Meer-Katz? (This is an actual press release from the City of Winnipeg)

WINNIPEG - March 25, 2009 - After repeated introductory attempts, the Assiniboine Park Zoo’s Slender-tailed Meerkats have finally formed a compatible group. Often seen on television advertisements and nature shows because of their charming antics, Meerkats are so colonial that it is notoriously difficult to add new individuals into an established group. In October 2008, the Zoo brought in five females from Lowry Park Zoo in Tampa, Florida, to join three lonely bachelor males in Winnipeg. Prior to introduction, all eight animals and the enclosure were dusted with scented baby powder in the hopes of confusing individual recognition.

During eight weeks of growling and squabbling, two females and one male were ejected from the new group. The compatible individuals (two males and three females) are back on display in the Kinsmen Discovery Center. Mating has been observed and young may be produced later this spring. Offspring will be sent to other Canadian facilities.

The Zoo first imported Meerkats in 1988, but needed to acquire unrelated individuals to keep the colony going. The Slender-tailed Meerkat is related to mongooses and is native to the savannas of southern Africa, where individuals take turns standing on guard on top of a termite mound to watch for approaching predators. The Meerkats have been one of the Zoo’s most-popular exhibits because of their charming features and fascinating behaviour. This species may live up to 20 years in captivity.

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