Meerkats snuggle to get through winter

02 July 2021

Werribee Open Range Zoo’s meerkat mob has mastered keeping warm in the lead up to a cold and blustery World Meerkat Day [Saturday, 3 July 2021], thanks to some thaw-some help from a dedicated team of zoo keepers.

Throughout the colder months, keepers are deploying simple innovations to help keep the animals cosy – from strategically placed heat-lamps to inventive heated hideaway burrows.

The heat-lamps are a favourite among the cute critters. The mob takes turns rolling onto their backs under the warm glow, exposing their near-hairless bellies to absorb heat directly as they would in their natural desert habitat.

While, deep within their subterranean inspired burrows, a heated plate underneath their bedding radiates gently overnight when temperatures drop to their lowest.

Werribee Open Range Zoo African River Trail keeper Suzanne Szabo says the mob love to huddle together when the barometer goes south.

“Meerkats are native to dessert environments in southern Africa, where day temperatures are high and evening temperatures drop significantly,” Ms Szabo said. “The mob instinctively huddles together in a pile to conserve warmth, with the outer-most meerkats remaining alert to monitor for predator species.”

These simple heating innovations at Werribee Open Range Zoo help to provide all animals with the highest quality care. Each animal can exercise choice and control when it comes to interacting with heating and any other enrichment on offer.

World Meerkat Day is an annual event which aims to generate awareness about and celebrate the fascinating species.

Zoo members and visitors are reminded that all tickets to the Zoo must be pre-booked at zoo.org.au and asked to follow the current COVIDSafe directions at www.coronavirus.vic.gov.au