News Update

Human feet prove to be main attraction for Longleat Meerkats
Submitted 28/05/2011 12:01:04

These adorable meerkats might not be quite as sweet and innocent as they look - after developing a keen interest in human feet.

Their new enclosure in Jungle Kingdom at Longleat Safari & Adventure Park, is the first place in the UK where visitors can mingle with these cute critters.

Made famous by the Compare the Market adverts on TV they are delighted with the arrangement because they love nothing more than running amongst visitors.

They love playing around people's feet, larking about, making mischief and would probably sneak into visitors handbags if they were allowed.

It's not just the adult meerkats who have been attracted to wriggly toes though.

Among the more inquisitive meerkats are six babies which have recently been venturing into the walk-through enclosure for the first time. The meerkat babies may only be six weeks old but seem quite happy wandering amongst the visitors.

Keepers have had be on alert over the past week watching out for the adventurous youngsters as keeper, Catriona Carr explains:

"The babies seem to be settling really well into their new environment and are certainly not lacking in confidence!

"As keepers we've had to keep an eye on anybody wearing sandals or flip-flops, especially if they have painted toenails

"They seem to be more attracted to reds and blues for some reason

"We're not entirely sure what it is about the feet. It might be the bright colours of the footwear and toenails, the movement of the toes or even the smell!

"As keepers it certainly keeps us on our toes to make sure the cheeky critters don't nibble any visitor feet!"

The new path through the enclosure in Jungle Kingdom enables people to interact with the animals, which are among the favourites at the park.

But staff didn't think the meerkats would enjoy the humans as much as the humans enjoyed them.

The six baby meerkats are now part of a group of nineteen living in Jungle Kingdom at Longleat with the majority all successful births from previous years.

Groups of meerkat are known as mob and originate from parts of Southern Africa, Namibia and the Kalahari.

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Source: Longleat

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