Baby meerkats at Perth Zoo have started exploring their African savannah home and made their public debut today.
The ever-popular colony expanded on September 27 when mother Tilly, who arrived from Newquay Zoo in England in January, gave birth to four healthy kits.
Four adult males make up the rest of the clan.
Environment Minister Bill Marmion said the kits’ eyes opened within 14 days so they were already venturing out of their nest box and exploring their African savannah home.
The sex of the kits would be determined at their first health check and vaccination next month, Mr Marmion said.
Tilly was a confident and relaxed first-time mother, while all of the adult males in the group were sharing the babysitting duties, Mr Marmion said.
“These endearing animals are one of the most popular species at Perth Zoo and now visitors have even more reason to visit them,” he said.
Meerkats are members of the mongoose family and are found in southern Africa.
They are extremely social animals but are highly territorial and will fiercely defend their home from other meerkat mobs.
From a vantage point, appointed meerkat sentries stand on their hind legs to keep a look-out for predators such as eagles and cobras while other group members forage for food.
When a threat is spotted, the sentries let out a bark of alarm and the group dives into its burrow.
Meerkats make at least 10 different vocalisations, including a threatening growl.