Vet visit to Zoo Meerkats at Royal Children's Hospital

6 August 2014

Once the Zoo Keepers managed to round up the eight frisky female meerkats, this morning’s veterinary visit proceeded promptly.

Almost before they knew it, the meerkats were checked, weighed, vaccinated, and back in the exhibit enjoying their post-procedure treats!

The vet check this morning was of the group of Zoo Meerkats living across the park at the Royal Children’s Hospital.

That meerkat group gets exactly the same care and attention from Zoo Keepers and Vets as the four meerkat groups living at Melbourne Zoo.

There are eight female meerkats in the display developed as part of the new Royal Children’s Hospital, a world first initiative aimed at providing an enjoyable experience for children receiving treatment.

The species is an ideal selection for the display at the hospital because of their high level of activity and the continuous social interaction between the members of the group.

The group is made up of four sisters born in South Africa and four of their daughters, and today they were due for their annual check-up and vaccinations.

In spite of their misleading name, meerkats are not members of the feline family, but nonetheless they are subject to diseases which affect cats: feline enteritis and cat flu.

Today’s veterinary visit ensured that the group’s immunisation against these two life-threatening diseases remains current.

Zoo Carnivore Keepers Meagan Thomas, Zoe Rowell, and Ditar Uka assisted Zoo Vet Dr. Kate Bodley to carry out the procedures.

Meerkats are native to arid areas of Angola, Namibia, South Africa, and Botswana.

Meerkats demonstrate their instinct to protect group members by taking turns as sentries, usually perching on a high vantage point to assist in spotting potential predators.  They frequently scan the skies, on the lookout for the birds of prey which are a major threat in their native habitat.