Meerkat Live Cam

Welcome to the Louisville Zoo’s Meerkat Live Cam, made possible by the Irvin F. and Alice S. Etscorn Foundation.

Watch the mob explore their exhibit, discover and investigate enrichment items and interact with each other in a unique hierarchical system. On this page you can also learn more about our meerkats and download supporting materials and activities.

MEERKAT WEBCAM

How many of our meerkats can you spot?

MEERKAT FAQ

How many meerkats are there?
There are currently 5 meerkats.

What are their names?
Bazinga, Wil Wheaton, Penny and Barry. They are named after characters from the television sitcom “The Big Bang Theory.”

What are they closely related to?
Meerkats are a part of the mongoose family!

How many meerkats can live in a group?
For meerkats, there is safety in numbers; a group of meerkats can have anywhere from 3 to 50 individuals!

Where do meerkats live?
Meerkats live in the deserts and grasslands of Southern Africa. Most notably meerkats live in the Kalahari and Namib deserts.

Do meerkats live underground?
Meerkats live in burrows to help give them shelter as well as keep them cool in the hot desert. While meerkats are excellent diggers, they often take over the burrows of other animals such as ground squirrels. Digging their own shelter would require lots of energy, it is much easier and effective for them to move into another animals burrow and renovate it the way they want!

What do meerkats eat?
Meerkats are desert specialists and have evolved to eat nearly everything they can find. They are primarily insectivores and eat anything from grubs and snails to spiders and scorpions. Desert survival is challenging and they have evolved to scavenge for food like eggs as well as hunt venomous snakes, lizards, rodents and even birds!

Why are they called meerkats?
Meerkat is probably derived from a Sanskrit word markata meaning “monkey” or “ape.” The word was adopted by Asian and European explorers and modified to meerkat; a Dutch-inspired word that means  “sea-cat.” The exact reason this word became attached to everyone’s favorite mongoose is unknown; but what we do know is meerkats are neither aquatic nor closely related to cats!

What is a group of meerkats called?
A group of meerkats is called a “mob” or “gang.”

Why are the meerkats standing up and looking around?
Meerkats have different roles to help the group succeed. One of these roles is referred to as a “sentry,” their job is to keep watch over the other meerkats and watch for predators. They stand on their hind legs usually from an elevated position and scan the area looking for hawks, snakes, jackals and anything else that may want to harm the other meerkats. When a threat is spotted they let out a distinctive noise that lets the other meerkats know the danger is coming, and then they run into their protective tunnels and wait for the danger to pass.

Why are they digging?
Meerkats are exceptional diggers and digging is a part of their natural behavior. In the wild meerkats dig in order to find food and to excavate their burrows.

Why are the meerkats biting or chasing each other?
Meerkats are social animals and playing is an important part of their social bond. If you see the meerkats chasing or biting at each other they are likely just playing around. While meerkats within the same group do sometimes fight, they generally avoid injuring each other. As they are social animals they need to provide food to even injured individuals, so hurting other meerkats would be against their own self-interest.

They are so cute, can I hold one?
While we cannot deny meerkats are absolutely adorable, we do not handle the meerkats unless absolutely necessary! Meerkats are very cute but they are predators with sharp claws and teeth which they use to protect themselves if they feel threatened. Instead of holding them, try to enjoy their rambunctious behavior by observing them with our live feed!

MEET THE MEERKATS

Meerkat Keeper Stephanie McNally introduces all of our meerkats and explains how you can tell each of them apart!

SEE THEM LIVE AND IN PERSON!

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