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Welcome Chica and Spot the meerkats!

Zoo Atlanta welcomes more new animal arrivals to the all-new African Savanna: Chica and Spot, two 6-year-old female slender-tailed meerkats. Recent arrivals from the Fort Worth Zoo in Texas, Chica and Spot have begun exploring their new home in the Zoo’s meerkat complex.

The females, who are sisters, will be introduced to the male meerkats at Zoo Atlanta – Kingsley, Littlefoot, Petrie, and Spike – in hopes that the six will form a new group, known as a mob. Meerkats are highly social animals, with mobs numbering as many as 50 individuals in the wild in southern Africa.

“We’re excited to introduce Chica and Spot to the African Savanna. This is already a very dynamic group where the animals are almost always busy, and our Members and guests enjoy observing the intricacies of meerkat behavior,” said Jennifer Mickelberg, PhD, Vice President of Collections and Conservation. “We also hope this will give our mob a chance to raise a new generation, which would be a wonderful experience for them and for us.”

Because much of their natural range, which extends into the Kalahari Desert, lies within protected areas, meerkats are unique among many of their other African animal counterparts in that they are not currently threatened in the wild. A limited pet trade in meerkats has not yet made a significant impact on wild populations, but the exotic pet trade is a serious challenge for many other species. By perpetuating the sharing of content showing “cute” animals in unnatural or inappropriate settings, social media is playing an increasingly larger role in fueling interest in the trade.

Chica and Spot are the third and fourth new animals to join the African Savanna in 2020. Hamlet, a 1-year-old male warthog, began exploring his new habitat in October with female Eleanor. Mumbles, a 9-year-old southern white rhinoceros, arrived in May.

Zoo Atlanta is open daily with new protocols and procedures in place to promote wellness and prevent the spread of COVID-19. These include timed ticketing (tickets must be purchased online in advance); a largely one-way experience through the Zoo; hand-sanitizing stations throughout grounds; and signage and other aids to encourage social distancing. Masks are currently required for general admission for all guests over the age of 10. Certain optional paid experiences, including giraffe feeding, the Endangered Species Carousel, Zoo train, and Treetop Trail, require masks for all guests ages 2 and up. Learn more or plan a visit on zooatlanta.org.

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