A clan of about a dozen meerkats have taken up residence at 10 North Water Street and a delightful surprise.
First popularized by the comical sidekick Timon in Disney’s “The Lion King” and then celebrated in the Animal Planet television series “Meerkat Manor” (2005-2009), meerkats are members of the mongoose family that live in social “mobs” or “gangs” in burrows in the Kalahari Desert, in the southern African nations of Botswana and South Africa.
No mere cats, meerkats (Suricata suricatta) are fascinating for living in structured but cooperative societies, including a foraging strategy where adults take turns standing guard upright on their hind feet, watching for predators, while the others eat. As the popular “Meerkat Manor” television series showed, the family-based “mobs” are not lacking in daily drama – from internal relationship issues to battles with other “mobs” encroaching on their territory to the ever-present fear of jackals and eagles.
“These are active animals with very charismatic faces and highly interesting social structures, so they are a lot of fun for visitors to watch,” said Jack Schneider, the Aquarium’s curator of animals.
The exhibit features six sibling meerkats – three males, three females – born in the Hogle Zoo in Salt Lake City, Utah. Their Maritime Aquarium habitat offers windows into their underground burrows, so all meerkat activity is within view. A viewing bubble even lets young visitors stand up right among the meerkats.
The meerkat exhibit runs indefinitely.
The Maritime Aquarium in Norwalk is open every day of the year from 10:00a.m.-5:00p.m. except thanksgiving day and Christmas Day. Tel. (203) 852-0700