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.