5 Jan 2016
Family portrait! One of three new meerkat pups born at Chester Zoo stands side-by-side with mum

Born on 28 January, the terrific trio has been kept out of sight by their mum and the rest of the meerkat mob until they were ready to emerge from their underground burrow.

But now, at nine-weeks-old, the tiny youngsters have been spotted stepping out for the first time.

For the time being, it is unclear whether to pups are male or female. However, the three pups are scheduled to undergo their first health check-up early next month when all will be revealed.

Kids will be kids! Two meerkat pups born at Chester Zoo enjoy a little rough and tumble together after emerging from their burrows for the first time

Meerkat facts

  • The species’ scientific name is Suricata suricatta
  • Meerkats are native to Angola, Botswana, Namibia, South Africa
  • Most meerkats live in underground burrows in large groups of around 30 individuals called a gang or a mob
  • Meerkats have scent pouches below their tails and will rub these pouches on rocks and plants to mark their territory
  • They have dark patches around their eyes that act to cut down on the glare and help them see far into the distance
  • Meerkats have four toes on each feet and very long, non-retractable claws to help them dig
  • Meerkats can close their ears to keep dirt out while digging
  • Pups are typically born after an 11-week gestation period
  • As a species they have an interesting feeding approach as they will always maintain visual and vocal contact whilst foraging, with one of the group standing on its hind legs and acting as sentry on the lookout for predators
  • They feed mostly on invertebrates and plant matter
  • In the coming weeks, once the zoo’s keepers have determined the sexes of the pups, they will then decide on names