Four baby meerkats have been born at a Sussex zoo and are starting to explore the world above ground level.
The tiny burrowers are making excellent progress at Drusillas Park.
Mum, Trixie and Dad, Frank welcomed the quadruplets on May 19, keeping the youngsters closely protected underground for the first two weeks. They have now started to leave the den alongside their five adult family members, with a babysitter supervising them at all times.
Meerkats are very social creatures, living in complex underground burrows in highly organised groups. Only one pair of meerkats will breed within a mob, giving birth to between two and five young at a time. However, all the members of the group will help to look after the youngsters and share the responsibility of raising the pups.
In the wild, meerkats are native to south-west Africa and are members of the mongoose family.
The meerkats at Drusillas are looked after by zookeeper, Lauren Amos who started as a volunteer in 2013 and has recently taken on a full-time position in the team.
She said: “I feel very privileged to be working so closely with these animals. I was present on the day of the birth and even witnessed their very first moment outside.
“At just a month old the babies have developed considerably and are already revealing their own little characters. Our smallest infant has formed a close bond with dad, Frank and shows no fear. The other three pups are very confident and are constantly trying to steal food off of the older family members.
“I am really looking forward to watching them grow and develop into fine adults in the coming months.”
Located just off the A27 in Alfriston, Drusillas Park is open from 10am until 6pm.
Don’t miss out on all the latest breaking news where you live.
Here are four ways you can be sure you’ll be amongst the first to know what’s going on.
1) Make our website your homepage
2) Like our Facebook page
3) Follow us on Twitter
4) Register with us by clicking on ‘sign in’ (top right corner). You can then receive our daily newsletter AND add your point of view to stories that you read here.
And do share with your family and friends - so they don’t miss out!
Always the first with your local news.
Be part of it.