Four slender-tailed meerkats are new residents of Fresno Chaffee Zoo, a first for the Roeding Park attraction.
The meerkats are females Karoo, 13, and Teza, 8, from Busch Gardens in Tampa Bay, Fla., and males Jasper, 5, and Creeper, 4, from Brevard Zoo in Melbourne, Fla. All are finishing a 30-day quarantine period and have been introduced to one another off-exhibit because they are a territorial species, according to Denise Robertson, zoo hospital manager.
The meerkats, a species made popular by the character Timon in the Disney movie “The Lion King,” have access to their exhibit and their behind-the-scenes area 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily.
“They’re still getting used to their new environment,” said Lyn Myers, zoo interim general curator. “But we are so excited that they’re here and can’t wait for the public to meet them and learn all about this amazing animal.”
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The slender-tailed mammals are found in southern Africa, specifically in the Kalahari Desert, and live among sandy plains and in underground burrows.
The carnivorous species, a relative of the mongoose, has long, curved claws for digging and dark rings around their eyes to help reduce the sun’s glare. Meerkats consume small insects, rodents and lizards.