So this week I am talking about my Meerkat Experience!
My lovely Mum gave me a Meerkat Experience for Edinburgh Zoo last year, and I thought I would book it for this year, during my birthday month! Unfortunately we had to reschedule due to Beast from the East (thanks) but we got it sorted and I headed to the zoo on a rainy morning (nothing was going to stop me!)
I got there early and decided to check out the Otters talk, which was very informative, and the otters thought I was there to feed them, but turns out their keeper was behind me (sad face). It was very cute as they are super pathetic with their squeaks of pretending to be starting. They ate defrosted mice for lunch.
I then went through the pelican walkthrough, which as it was raining they were all chilling on a rock but was very cool to see them up close.
I then went to see the painted hunter dogs and they were inside right up against the glass, as I think they were waiting to see what their keeper was doing outside. They are super cute and so fluffy, with awesome markings.
After 12 I went to meet up with the keeper who was taking me. They are only restricted to two people and it was just me, so it was really fun getting a one on one and I asked loads of questions. We went to one of the meerkats enclosures (the boys one) and I was told that I would be feeding them and also giving them toys to play with (weeeee!)
We went and got all the food and then started to head into the enclosure. The meerkats have tunnels all over their enclosure so they could already see us coming in and were looking very curious. We went through the two sets of doors and popped in.
They weren’t overly sure at first, but they started to come in and look around and get used to me. We had to step very carefully as they are quick and we might accidentally stand on toes or tails. We then set up a little empty paddling pool with coloured balls for them to play in and then started to get their food sorted.
For that day’s menu we were feeding them live locusts and mealworms. It was quite something to open up the bag and see a lot of live locusts in the bag, but I grabbed a big handful and threw them into the pool for them to eat. Suddenly they all came flying in, and when I was too slow putting the food in (i.e. 1 second) they were all standing up and looking at me. I finished the bag and then started putting the meal worms in also.
Once they were finished they started moving around the enclosure more, with some climbing up my leg and tapping my leg with their paw, rather like a cat does, looking for more food. They went all around me and often when I looked behind me there was one sitting there. I couldn’t pat them or put my hands near them as they bite quite hard and their claws are quite sharp but I took a lot of photos and the keeper was kind enough to take a few for me.
I asked the keeper about if they had tried to train the meerkats to do certain tasks at all, and she said yes, but there was an issue. They had tried to get the meerkats to hit a target, however all of them wanted to hit the target, all at once. They also all wanted the treat that came with it. So they are smart, but just very very enthusiastic. They get right into it once they are comfortable, hence why this experience is such a great thing for them and for zoo visitors.
We packed up and then headed out of the enclosure with the equipment, when she informed me that she had a surprise animal for me to see. It was a an armadillo, which I love! I was meeting the baby Inti. We woke her up and I got to hold her. The shell is pretty amazing, and she was very relaxed. I fed her some mealworms, and then we put her back into her enclosure so she could sleep! I was so pleased to see one so up close, and felt lucky to have had that added onto my experience.
I’d like to thank Edinburgh Zoo for putting on such a great experience for me, and the keeper who took me in particular (I totally forgot your name, I’m sorry!). Thank you to my Mum and Gordon for coordinating this also, was the best birthday present ever!
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