Park celebrates birth of meerkats and prairie dogs!

Drusillas Park, in Alfriston in East Sussex, is celebrating the arrival of six newborns but they aren’t just any kats and dogs! Four prairie dog pups and two meerkat pups have been born at the Park recently.

Both sets of newborns are born underground. Prairie dog pups don’t pop up from their burrow until they are about six weeks old and can only just now be seen starting to explore outside and socialise. Keepers at the Park believe they were born around the middle of May.

Meerkats, Tamu and Tyson, welcomed their twin pups on the 12th May 2021. The pair are seasoned parents and have kept their youngsters very closely protected. They have now started to leave the den alongside their other family members, with a babysitter supervising them at all times.

Zoo Animal Manager, Mark Kenward, commented: “We are absolutely delighted with the new arrivals. Our visitors really love to see the baby meerkats and prairie dogs

playing and enjoying the sunshine. They are very active little ones and they playfight all the time. All good signs of healthy progress.”

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 two to 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. The brothers and sisters of the new arrivals can be seen helping out with duties already.

In the wild, meerkats are native to south-west Africa and are members of the mongoose family.

Mark Kenward added: ““We don’t know the sex of the babies and they have not yet been named, but we are hoping visitors will be able to help with some inventive name suggestions soon!”

“Both little families are all doing really well. Our youngest Colobus monkey baby Kylo is in the enclosure next to the meerkat pups and he’s really enjoying watching them play!”

Prairie dogs are native to prairies and open grasslands in North America. They live in underground burrows, with nurseries, sleeping quarters, and even toilets. They live in family groups and like to greet each other with a prairie dog kiss or nuzzle.

Both animals have long been favourites at Drusillas so the news of the births is really very special.