Soooo cute!

Who wouldn`t want this, too...


Summer for the mob

Two days ago I visited the kats in the early evening of a hot day.

At first only Möfzi, Flat Ears and the youngsters came, but after some time Orlok and Stubby Tail popped out of the inside enclosure and came running.

At the moment the enclosure is really great, lots of plants and even some small trees have sprung up and the kats have many opportunities for playing hide and seek or digging up interesting things. I hope they will not clear this away too soon, as they usually do.

Last year, when the babies emerged, they left the enclosure almost untouched for the whole summer, but in the years before they uprooted all the plants as soon as the enclosure started to look a little unkempt.

The plants also provide some more privacy for the kats, which I think is very important for the group.

Later in the evening the whole group suddenly barked and shrieked with alarm. At first I could not see, what had caused this as the sun was very low and they were looking right into the sun.

But then I saw a paraglider landing close by behind one of the major buldings. They hate all kinds of silent gliders, in particular those resembling the shape of a bird of prey. They also detest hot air ballons, their looming silent presence in the sky is too much.

Intersting enough the bark/shriek they made was completely different from that they make when they see for example the black-and-white cat from next door (which they hate) or they discover a bird of prey or something else further off.

Meerkat sounds are studied by Professor Marta Manser from Zurich University. 34 different sounds are known in meerkats.

Those of you watching meerkats regularly will be familiar with some of the sounds like the clucking watchman`s song or the purring sound they constantly make which is a kind of positioning call.

They also have a special grooming sound which is a kind of high-pitched squeek, this can often be heard when one of the youngsters is grooming Möfzi.

The sounds they make for different kinds of threats (aerial, from the ground, closer by, further off etc.) differ from group to group, so each meerkat group has its own dialect which is passed on within the group.

Actually I really wonder why so many people (including zoo staff) claim that the meerkats whistle when alarmed. No, they don`t! It`s marmots that whistle, but not meerkats.

Here come some pictures I made during my visit.

Left: Snoutie and Sayuri on Guard Duty
Right: Sayuri standing up with her legs wide apart so that her tail will touch the floor.

Close up of Caruso - doesn´t she look like Swingkat?
Right: Caruso "I want a.... SHRUBBERY!"

Orlok (back) Snoutie (front)
Right: Snoutie "I want ANOTHER shrubbery!"

Close ups of Möfzi
Right: Caruso and Möfzi - Möfzi is blinking, you can see the nictating membranes coming down

Left: Orlok
Right: Sayuri terrorizing Flat Ears


Current state of the mob

During our last visits the kats were pretty relaxed.

Since Jolly Roger died and Swingkat disappeared, the mob is no longer a real group, though.

Möfzi is mostly with her children or on her own. But different from the time shortly after their release in early April, she is stronger and interested in everything around her. She is as loud as ever before and will hipslam and growl, just like in the old times.

Some weeks ago she got an injection into her bad leg and this seems to have worked very well. I presume that she received either some anti-inflammatory treatment or some kind of painkiller, maybe both.

She is running again, even though she will prefer some sort of fast trot, which looks pretty cute. She looks like an old lady trying to catch the bus, but running is simply bad style!

Orlok and Stubby Tail still look like some sort of gay couple.
They will sit together most of the time, getting on each other`s nerves.
Stubby Tail`s teeth are in very bad condition, they canines in the lower jaw are molten to little stubs. We hope that he will not be the next in line with a history of infections and operations.

Flat Ears is by himself most of the time, often seen on guard duty and not interested in Möfzi at all. During our last visit we saw him and Orlok sitting together, grooming each other. This has become a very rare sight since Jolly Roger died and Stubby Tail and Orlok are together as some sort of parody of a dominant couple.

The three youngsters are in very good condition.
They are not fully grown yet, but you can see their bodies losing the juvenile features.

Caruso and Snoutie both like to bite. Caruso will take any occasion whereas Snoutie needs some more provocation ;-)

Snoutie is doing a lot of guard duty and he will often hang out with the guys. Stubby Tail and Orlok are not the best role models, though.

Sayuri is a little darling and has become very wild. She will try anything, even if it hurts her.

Last time she hit her chin several times in a row on the edge of the enclosure, while she was trying to stand up and lost her balance.

Once it must have hurt really bad, because she shook her head, trying to get rid of the pain. It really gives us the creeps, when she hits the edge with an audible and loud WHACK.

During our last visit we decided to change to the opposite side of the enclosure, as there is more soft sand close to the edge.

The kats had been digging there and the youngsters were digging and playing.

One of them would start digging and the next one would try to squeeze into the hole, only to return again after some seconds. This popping in and out of the hole lasted for some time, until it ended in play.

Sayuri was the last to go to sleep and kept popping in and out of the hole several times. She is so cute, when she looks up over her shoulder instead of sitting up, like the other kats would do. And she looks more and more like a twin to Möfzi, minus the tail.


A visit to Basel Zoo

On Monday we visited Basel Zoo to see the 6 adorable meerkat pups, which are now 2 months old.

It is a really big mob with about 10 adult, 3 juveniles and the 6 pups. They share their enclosure with 3 huge porcupines, but the alliance is an uneasy one. The procupines avoid larger meerkat groups and the meerkats will snarl at the procupines, whenever they come close.

The enclosure is rather spacious, too and they have many high lookout places, rotting logs to explore etc.

After some time we realized that one of the pups was injured and limping on three legs. We tried to contact the zoo and after some attempts someone answered the phone. They told us that they had already noticed the injured pup and it was taken care of. We hope that it will be well soon and thrive like his siblings.

From the visit we brought you these 3 videos, where you can watch the large group at play and one of the pups cuddling with his mother close up.