Zoo - meerkats not suitable as pets

STAFF at an Essex zoo have urged people not to consider meerkats as pets after the popularity of a recent television commercial.

Roddy Ashworth

STAFF at an Essex zoo have urged people not to consider meerkats as pets after the popularity of a recent television commercial.

The advert for comparethemarket.com, a price comparison website, features a meerkat called Aleksandr.

But staff at Tropical Wings Zoo, who have seen their own meerkats become increasingly popular with visitors, said they had also received inquiries about how to obtain the animals as domestic pets.


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Gemma Hiskett, a keeper at the Essex wildlife park that recently named one of its meerkats Aleksandr in recognition of the commercial's popularity, said: “Meerkats are wild animals that live in family groups, with complex social structures.

“They should never be kept alone because without the support of their family group, they become very insecure, which subsequently makes them aggressive and destructive.”

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Zoo Manager Andy Taylor said: 'The success of the film Finding Nemo saw a rise in demand for clown fish and similarly, with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, terrapins surged in popularity and were kept by people who didn't have the experience, knowledge or equipment to keep them in the appropriate conditions.

“We just hope that meerkats bred by unscrupulous dealers do not become the latest victims of trend.”

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