The Chatanooga Zoo announces the birth of two meerkat pups. The pups were born to first-time mother, Flower, at the Chattanooga Zoo on Thursday. Mom and pups are all doing great, said Zoo officials.
The successful birth is a first at the Chattanooga Zoo and is an incredibly important step towards the Zoo’s efforts to help protect these animals in the wild, said Zoo officials.
The Chattanooga Zoo has housed meerkats since the opening of its Deserts of the World building in 2012. Meerkats are a type of mongoose found in Southern Africa. The Chattanooga Zoo’s meerkat mob was placed together through the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ Species Survival Plan, with a breeding recommendation within the mob.
"It is always exciting to have babies born, but even more so to watch their natural parental behaviors,” said Chattanooga Zoo’s Assistant Curator and Animal Health & Records Manager, Lacey Hickle. “There have been a lot of ups and downs in our meerkat mob over recent months and it is rewarding to see our mob grow with two active little pups."
Flower, the two-year-old mother, was placed at the Chattanooga Zoo by the SSP in October. Flower came to the Chattanooga Zoo along with her sister, Sandy. Joining a new mob caused hierarchy conflicts between the females, ultimately leading to the relocation of Sandy through the SSP to another AZA-accredited institution and making Flower the dominant female leader of the mob. This is the first breeding recommendation the Zoo has received with meerkats.
Dardenelle Long, Chattanooga Zoo President & CEO said, “I am so proud of the hard work our animal care staff put into managing the introductions to allow for another reproductive success at the Zoo. Introducing Sandy and Flower to our resident mob brought many challenges, but our animal care staff diligently worked to ensure the safety of all while allowing the mob to participate in their naturalistic behaviors.”
As the meerkat pups were born inside the meerkat habitat within the Deserts of the World building, the pups will stay with their mother, and guests are welcome to come to visit. As the pups are newborns and Flower is experiencing higher stress levels at this time with caring for her young, all visitors are asked to be respectful of this and refrain from any intentional disturbances.