Wednesday, 10 March 2010

Compare the (baby) meerkats….





Caption: The new baby meerkats at Tropical World, along with an image of the meerkats being fed by Leeds City Council executive member for Leisure Cllr John Procter and Tropical World Head Animal Keeper Steve Dickie

The pitter-patter of tiny feet is to be expected as this time of year as spring approaches, but Tropical World in Leeds has some new arrivals with a difference in the form of three new-born meerkats.

The popular visitor attraction in Roundhay has seen its first success as part of a new breeding programme with three baby meerkats born to a female who was brought in to Tropical World from the Cotswold Wildlife Park before Christmas.

The new arrivals are just four weeks old and have only this week started to be brought to the surface of the meerkat enclosure by their mother. The first three weeks of their lives have been spent completely underground in their burrows under her protection.

The babies are not yet old enough for their sexes to be determined but mature quickly as they reach adulthood in just 12 months. They spend the first six weeks of life totally dependent on their mother, but will then quickly acquire a taste for worms and grubs. The adult members of the colony at Tropical World will act as babysitters and teachers showing the newcomers how to forage and find food, while visitors will also see the new trio playfighting as they learn together and grow stronger.

The trio are the first meerkats to be born at Tropical World in over 10 years, and with the gestation period for a meerkat being short at 75 days, the animal keepers are hopeful of seeing this success repeated with more new arrivals later in the year.

The baby meerkats are just the latest in an exciting group of new arrivals to Tropical World in recent months. In November a rare albino Burmese Python which measures approximately 11 feet long and a Yellow Anaconda which is almost five feet long arrived from Scotland.

This was followed a month later by the arrival of three young Morelet’s Crocodiles which have proved hugely popular with visitors of all ages as for the first time ever a Leeds visitor attraction is now home to three resident crocodiles.

Leeds City Council executive member for Leisure Councillor John Procter said:

“We are absolutely delighted to be able to welcome these wonderful new baby meerkats for everyone to see and hopefully they are the first of many.

“Together with the new snakes and the amazing popularity of the young crocodiles, Tropical World is better than ever in terms of being a great place to visit for all the family. A lot of hard work has gone into bringing these exciting changes about but everyone can see it has been well worth it and hopefully there are even more to come!”

Notes to editors:

Located opposite Roundhay Park, Tropical World is home to one of the largest collections of tropical plants outside Kew Gardens and also houses birds, butterflies, fish, other reptiles, nocturnal monkeys and bats.

Tropical World was officially renamed ‘The Arnold and Marjorie Ziff Tropical World’ in 2008 in honour of the local benefactors for their lifelong support for the area and the city.

For further information on Tropical World and its opening hours go to www.leeds.gov.uk/tropicalworld or call 0113 214 5715.

ENDS

For media enquiries please contact:
Roger Boyde, Learning and Leisure Media Relations Officer,
Tel 0113 247 5472, Email: roger.boyde@leeds.gov.uk