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MAYOR OPENS MEERKAT EXHIBIT AT HONOLULU ZOO

 

Mayor Mufi Hannemann today announced the completed renovation of the Honolulu Zoo’s meerkat exhibit, which is now open to the public.

 

“The zoo is wonderful place to visit, especially for children,” Mayor Hannemann said. “I invite everyone to come down and see the meerkats and their remodeled home.”

 

The meerkat exhibit was originally completed in 1994. The renovations increased the height of the exhibit’s glass to minimize the chance of public contact with the animals, and included other improvements.

 

The zoo has six male meerkats, all purchased from the Gladys Porter zoo in Texas. Four of the animals are nearly five years old, and the other two are just one year old.

 

Meerkats are a species of mongoose, of which there are 35 types. Unlike other mongoose, meerkats live in communities and depend on one another to survive. They live in large underground networks with multiple entrances which they leave only during the day. They are native to the southern part of Africa, in the area dominated by the Kalahari Desert.

 

Meerkats forage in a group with one “sentry” on guard watching for predators while the others search for food. The sentry makes peeping sounds when all is well. If the sentry spots danger, it barks loudly or whistles. A meerkat community is called a “mob” or “gang,” and can number up to 40. There is always a dominant alpha male and dominate alpha female in each gang.

 

Like all mongoose, they are agile hunters preying on worms, crickets, grasshoppers, small rodents, lizards, small snakes, birds, eggs, fruit and ant larvae (which they especially enjoy).

  

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Media contact: Director of Enterprise Services Director Sid Quintal, 527-5415.