R.I.P. Möfzi - Our sweet, old lady is dead

Today I visited the mob and had the opportunity of asking one of the keepers during feeding time, if Möfzi had died. The answer was positive :-(

The first two weeks in February were bitter cold and as I had already written in January, Möfzi was very frail and had been suffering from health troubles. I do not know her exact day of death, but I will ask the main keeper in charge of the mob, when I see him.

I had been thinking about her often during this period of cold and snow.
Möfzi was ancient, between 13 and 14 years. I hope she had an easy death without any suffering and simply fell asleep and did not wake up again.

Another mystery to be solved is that Snoutie has been missing since about mid-January.
I do not know what happened to him, hopefully not another sad death, he was only a little more than 3 years old and always happy and healthy.

So this leave the mob down to 5 members: Flatears, Stubby Tail, Orlok, Caruso and Sayuri.

I still have to remove the pics from my camera, it looks like the two girls are fighting again.
Stubby Tail had some mysterious fluff in his fur, which look dirty and matted in this place, maybe a wound maybe just some wet dirt where the fluff got stuck.

The three males left will be 10 years old some time this summer.
I wonder what will happen to the mob, as non of the males is interessted in any of the females.


No news is good news

A belated happy new year to you meerkat fans out there.

I am really sorry for not being able to post regularly, but my current life leaves very little space for this blog.

All of you will certainly be pleased to read that our dear, ancient Möfzi is still alive!

Me and a friend visited a couple of days ago and I also paid some visits during the last year. There is not much going on in the mob, still no new couple and I guess, nothing along that line is likely to happen unless new meerkats are introduced into the group.

Möfzi is now toothless. She is suffering from an ekzema on her back, which is treated with vitamin shots and she also receives additional vitamins with her daily food.

Möfzi with 13+ years
If it was not for her broken front paw, she would still be able to walk normally. Now she is rather pushing herself along and stopping every couple of steps, but she still manages to get into and out of the inside enclosure. Her mice will be cut for her, or she gets cat food instead.

Möfzi taking a peek outside
When we arrived, she was inside the heated outdoor den looking out. She reminds me of those German housewives spending their days at the window sill, ellbows on a cushion, looking at the world. Minus pin curlers and apron dress ;-)

Despite all those physical troubles, she looks pretty much content and is unmolested by any other members of the group.

We talked to her keeper, who said that she should get monument, when she dies.
It is apparent that he loves this old, though lady, too.
Who would have thought that she makes another winter?


A new springtime

Dear meerkat-fans out there, I am sorry for not posting here for such a long time, but these last two years found me very busy...

Maybe I should give you a short update on the things that happened since the last post in September 2010.

The mob is still without a dominant couple but Möfzi, former DF is still alive, even though you would not say "kicking". Today one of the keepers told some people that she is 13 years now, which makes her a real meerkat Methuselah.

Möfzi went through a couple of crises these last months, the meanest thing was a huge abscess on her right hind leg which left her limping badly. The abscess was opened and cleaned and she was kept in a separate enclosure inside, but with sniffing contact to the other group members.

A friend and I were let into this enclosure by one of the keepers, and we had the chance to see her being fed and taken care of. We could see that the keeper was very touched by how tough and strong this old female still is. He told us that she was on the brink of death for about two days, struggling with the huge wound. On day three though, she got up and started eating again.

She is very weak, which is particularly due to not being able to chew properly. Once in a while they will keep her separate and feed her some additional stuff, she will also receive vitamin shots etc. As you will see in the pictures I´ll post further down, she looks shrunken.

Her right front paw, which was broken in winter 09 is giving her trouble, too. It is bent and looked slightly swollen. Möfzi is very slow now, but she will not miss any occasion snatching additional treats.

Unfortunately I did not bring egg or sth. just some dandelion, which is currently in full bloom and the which the kats really love.

One of the highlights I witnessed in the last months was the kats being given a whole dead rabbit to eat and play with. Unfortunately I did not bring my camera on this day. At first I wondered, why all the kats had so much blood on them, but looking into the inside enclosure I saw them going at the rabbit. On such occasions you can see that they are really mean predators, they love the blood and gore!

A lot has changed for the kats since their exhibt was started in 2000.

These last weeks the enclosure had a total makeover, with all the lookout hills being re-modelled, and two dead trees being put into the enclosure for the kats to climb onto. One of the real highlights though is that one of these newly made hills features a heated den! The kats will love this on windy and cold days!

In the beginning, in 2000 their enclosure was rather bleak and got bleaker within the next years, with the kats digging through every inch of ground, no new stuff being put into the enclosure etc. From 2000 until 2007/08 nothing much was done to brighten their lives.

With meerkats being very curious animals which get bored easily, this was a dreary situation. And of course they did not want to breed under these conditions. Möfzi had a couple of pregnancies which sadly resulted in misscarriages. One successful birth must have been around summer 2004, but the pups were attacked by the mob or she might even have killed them herself.

2004 was a bad year anyway, Stubby Tail had an abscess which was in need of treatment. He could not eat properly for several weeks, losing weight. It took ages until he was treated correctly. Since then he has been suffering from swellings on the right side of his nose, which will never go away completely. Today he had a swelling oozing pus from his right eye.

These nasal swellings can be found in most members of the group, the keepers think that they results from clogged sinuses and are not sure what the cause might be.

Today found all members well and relaxed even though there had been an event in the afternoon with thousands of people visiting in this fine and warm spring weather.

I will post a couple of pictures I made today.

The three youngsters Caruso, Sayuri and Snoutie.

Left: Orlok and Möfzi taking a nap
Middle: Snoutie and Möfzi
Right: Snoutie, Möfzi and Orlok

Close-ups of Möfzi, now aged 13.
In the right pic you can see her twisted right front paw.
You will also notice the long claws, as she will no longer use this paw for digging.

Left: Orlok sitting on one of the dead trees in the enclosure.
Middle: Snoutie on the newly made lookout featuring a heated den.
Right: Re-modelled hills, the large one on the right features the heated den.


Good bad news - Möfzi is still alive :-)

I just received an email from a meerkat friend of ours.

She wrote that Möfzi is still alive, but had to be separated from the group. Currently she is in the inside enclosure and has to be fed separately, as the other members of the mob will snatch her food away.

Our friend contacted one of the keepers and asked, if it is possible to visit her. I hope I can provide more news shortly.


R.I.P. Möfzi

This is another sad day for the mob.

Yesterday I visited the kats and did not see Möfzi. On my last visit a couple of weeks ago, she was still alive, but very weak. Möfzi could only take some steps at a time and had to sit down or rather crouch on the ground.

Christian visited the kats about 2 weeks ago, she was still alive then, but also very weak. He reported that she used her nose for pushing herself over the logs and stones. Her offspring groomed her a lot and made those squeaky "I-love-you"-sounds.

I had also noticed during my last visits that her offspring spent more time around her and she looked very well groomed. Getting up on her hind legs often proved too much, though and I also had the impression that she had difficulties chewing her food. She had not lost her appetite or interest in her surroundings, though.

With Möfzi gone it looks like the two females, Sayuri and Caruso are fighting for dominance again. I noticed some aggressive behaviour going on between these two and Sayuri has another huge bite wound on her lower right jaw, just like last summer.

As none of the males is interested, there is no new dominant couple. In the wild this situation would surely have attracted the odd roving male, but in captivity it would make sense to introduce another male to the group.

As some of you may be aware, introducing another animal into an existing meerkat mob is very difficult, sometimes even impossible. Meerkats are very territorial and very social animals.

A stranger to the group will often be mobed, bitten and sometimes even killed. In capitivity limited escape is an added difficulty, as the "stranger" has no means of escaping vicious attacks like he could in the wild.

This is one of the last pictures take from Möfzi by Christian on August, 21st.
R.I.P. Möfzi, we will miss you dearly!

left: Snoutie, right: Möfzi


Summertime and the livin' is easy

Today I spent some hours watching the kats.

There is nothing really new to report, no new dominant couple yet and I am afraid that there will be none, as long as no new adult male or males will be introduced.

What becomes clear is that Sayuri is more a loner than Snoutie and Caruso, who can often be seen playing together or grooming each other. Sayuri is often with Möfzi or on her own. And she likes doing her own things in her own way.

All three of them did not grow as tall and huge as Möfzi in her better days, but remain more on the small side like their dad, Jolly Roger who was a small an rather delicate meerkat. But speaking of weight, I bet that Sayuri is the heaviest kat of the three.

As it was veery hot today I was wearing open shoes. Snoutie was obviously very attracted to my toes and scratching and pawing at them constantly as soon as my feet came into reach. Meerkat claws are not sharp like cat claws, but being pawed and clawed by a meerkat is not that nice either. In particular if the clawing is insistant ;-)

When I arrived, Möfzi was already napping in the sun. She is getting really old and stiff now and I also think that she goes hungry a lot of the time, as she has difficulties chewing stuff. I brought some cut up tomatoes and made sure that she received most of them.

The youngsters were playing a lot, chasing each other or hipslamming and pressing against each other. I captured some particularly nice scenes between Sayuri and Snoutie, but unfortunately the glass pane was very dirty.

One particularly funny scene remains uncaptured, though. During this interaction Snouties nose was pressed up against pane and with his mouth half open he looked simply ridiculous.

Currently I am really considering to buy a video cam, as some of the interaction is much more fun to watch on a video than on a pic.

Here comes the press gang, left Snoutie, right Sayuri.


Dandelion Season is back

Yesterday in the late afternoon I visited the kats. There was not much going on, though. After a long and sunny day the kats were rather idle, mostly sunning themselves or sleeping.

Sayuri and Flat Ears enjoying a warm spring day.

The question of who will become the next dominant couple is still unanswered. Neither Sayuri nor Caruso seem to excite any interest in the males.

We discussed this and came to the conclusion that it would need a new male in the group.
Christian`s opinion is that the incest repression (I`m not sure about this expression...) is not genetical, but rather social. This meaning that the males are not interested in the females, because of their close social bonds, taking care of them as pups and guarding them while they were growing up etc.

Some dead logs and cut-off boughs were added to the enclosure, as long as it is still bleak from winter. The dead logs and roots are favourites with the kats, they like scratching and examining the bark, playing with and sitting on the logs.

Everybody looked healthy so far.
Möfzi is a bit stiff, but she will defend her food and even tried to jump for the dandelion, whereas the former champions Orlok and Flat Ears did not bother to jump. Flat Ears seemed rather shy, but these last months we have not been visiting as regularly as we used to.

But Sayuri did jump! She landed on her back with an audible "THUMP" and gave me the evil eye ;-)

Stubby Tail looked rather unkempt in his winter fur. It looked like the strange relationship between him and Orlok has been discontinued.

Yesterday evening lacked a bit of the mob feeling, with everybody doing things on their own.

Lateron Möfzi lay down for a nap and after some time first Caruso and then Snoutie came to her. Snoutie made loud squeaky-calls and strated grooming Möfzi, who remaind impassive. After some time he started gnawing her tail tip, like he used to do as a pup. But even this did not result in any reaction. After some time he lost interest and went away, with Möfzi dozing happily on her own.

Flat Ears also went to sleep by himself on one of the big stones, which must have been warm from the sun. He was asleep most of the time during my visit. At first I did not see him, but then I discovered him on the far side of the lookout hills, stretched out flat like some meerkat rug.

With the fine weather continuing during the week, I will hopefully find time for another visit soon.

Here come some pics I took yesterday.

Food´s not, what it used to be... Waiter! I would like to file a complaint!
Left to right: Flat Ears, Möfzi and Sayuri, Sayuri

And here is the latest video posted by Christian on youtube, as I cannot embed this video for whatever reasons, I will just post the link.