Meerkat kits born at Cleveland Metroparks Zoo

CLEVELAND - A meerkat mom recently gave birth to several tiny kits at the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo.

Officials at the zoo believe the kits were born out on exhibit Aug. 26, and the mother has been keeping them hidden in a tunnel den, mostly out of view of animal care staff members and the public.

"We decided it would be better for the health and welfare of the kits to not disturb them by entering the exhibit and allow them time to bond with their mother," said curator of animals, Andi Kornak, in a news release. "Consequently, we are not sure exactly how many of them there may be total, but we do have visual confirmation on three."

Meerkat kits in the wild are kept hidden in the mob's tunnel system to protect them from predators. They're tended to by several members of the mob, not just the mother, who act as baby sitters or wet nurses.

A meerkat typically gives birth to between one and five kits, which normally begin exploring outside the den around 3-4 weeks old.

The Zoo's mob of five meerkats, a breeding male and female and their three offspring, came to Cleveland from the Red River Zoo in Fargo, North Dakota in Dec. 2011.

Meerkats are native to southern Africa. In the wild, they forage for insects or other small creatures, including scorpions and spiders.

Cleveland Metroparks Zoo is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. Admission is $12.25 per person, $8.25 for kids ages 2 to 11 and free for children younger than 2 and Zoo members. Parking is free.

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