A LOCAL animal park has celebrated some unusual arrivals - baby meerkats.
After welcoming six meerkats to the centre in March, the Park Rose Birds of Prey Centre, on Covert Lane, Carnaby, last week saw five baby meerkats born.
Despite the best efforts of owners Karl Black and Clare Steele - including getting up every two hours during the night for regular feedings - only one pup has survived, but it is still going strong.
“We were watching the meerkat clan because we knew one was pregnant, so we had them in the shed to keep an eye on them,” said Karl.
“One of our staff Callum went down to check on them, and he found the pups spread out on the floor.
“They were all stone cold and they had been left by the adults. I have spoken to the vet who said that meerkats will often leave their first litter to die, and sometimes even eat them.”
Unfortunately, one pup died almost straight away, but four lasted the first night after they were born last Wednesday, June 20. Three more pups then died the next evening.
“We’re absolutely exhausted but it’s well worth it,” added Clare.
“We run the centre for the animals and you do get attached to them. We just hope that this little one will survive and thrive.”
The remaining meerkat pup will not open its eyes until it is at least three weeks old, but will come to see Karl and Clare as its parents - which means it could be extra playful with visitors.
“With the adult meerkats we have got, they are wild animals so visitors don’t handle them, but the baby should be so used to humans that it might be easier,” continued Clare.
“They can be really playful and apparently they will just sit on your shoulder all day.”
The meerkat pup is not the only new arrival at the park, with a wallaby joey also recently born.
Clare said: “It is about four months old, but the thing about wallabies is that they carry on getting back in their mother’s pouch after they are born - this one is getting a bit big to do that now but it keeps trying which is really funny to watch.”
Karl and Clare are in the middle of their third season since taking over the business.
The meerkats and wallabies were joined at the centre in March by two donkeys called Lucy and Henry, and a host of animals already at the bird of prey centre including alpacas, chickens, goats, pigs and more than thirty owls and birds of prey.
And running the park has become a real family affair.
“Our daughters obviously love the meerkats and the new baby one. Our 5-year-old Freya looks after our Harris Hawk, getting up in the morning to feed it.
“She loves it and told all her friends at school about it for show and tell last week.”
“We’ve put a lot of work in as the centre was a big project when we took over and we continue to renovate.”