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MeerKlass: A Review

July 3 was World Meerkat Day, one of the best days of the year! In celebration, Zoo Atlanta’s Social Media Team gave a platform for Kingsley, our Zoo’s alpha meerkat male, to give his first-ever “MeerKlass” discussing “Meerkatology”. I highly recommend those who missed it to go back into the Zoo’s Facebook and Instagram to see his full MeerKlass, but in the meantime – My name is Caleb U., meerkat caretaker at Zoo Atlanta, and this my MeerKlass recap and review:

LESSON 1: PRACTICE SELF MEER-KARE. Starting off, Kingsley introduced himself as the alpha male of the Zoo’s meerkat mob, explaining that meerkats live in groups called “mobs” that can have up to 30 individuals led by a single breeding pair. In the wild, meerkats are primarily insectivores, and Kingsley said that his mob engages in training using crickets and mealworms as rewards. Behaviors such as stepping up onto a scale, presenting their nails for nail trims, and voluntarily going into a crate are just a few of the behaviors Kingsley and his mob can do to participate in their own self “meer-kare.”

LESSON 2: MAINTAIN A HEALTHY MOB MENTALITY. In Kingsley’s second lesson, he presented a video detailing the day-to-day runnings of his mob featuring some of meerkat’s specialized calls. With meerkats demonstrating “altruistic behaviors,” meaning the “good of the mob” is more important than the “good of the individual”, Kingsley explained that while some meerkats will play or forage for food, others will stand sentry looking out for danger. I highly recommend checking out the adorable video!

LESSON 3: PROTECT OUR FUTURE. In his final lesson, Kingsley discussed the woes of guests constantly making comments regarding wanting a meerkat as a pet. He explained that the exotic pet trade is one of the largest threats to many different “cute” animals’ populations. He pleaded with his those taking his MeerKlass to be a responsible pet owner and get a pet, not a wild animal. He also encouraged his students to take steps to protect his environment by reducing their carbon footprint.

After auditing his first-ever MeerKlass, I give Kingsley a solid 10/10. He was accessible, entertaining, and informative. Despite the species barrier, he related to humans through storytelling and witty meerkat wisdom. This MeerKlass is good for all ages who are interested in how to be a good meerkat and want to continue the World Meerkat Day festivities! But do not take just my word for it! I was not the only one who loved it too! In the comments, you will see glowing “reviews” from multiple animals around the Zoo who enjoyed the course, including Abu the giraffe, Tara the African elephant, and Hondo the African lion!

I hope you all had a wonderful World Meerkat Day, and a Happy Fourth of July as well. To me, World Meerkat Day is every day! Even though I’m on the Zoo’s Elephant Care Team (which also takes care of the meerkats), I cannot help but love our meerkats. Caring for them brings me so much joy, and I cannot wait to see what the future brings for our mob.

Caleb U.
Keeper I, Elephants

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