Urgent Search For Missing Baby Meerkat At Perth Zoo
A one-month-old meerkat has gone missing from Perth Zoo shortly after it started venturing out of its nest box, leaving heartbroken keepers fearing it has been taken by a predator or stolen.
Staff hadn't yet got close enough to determine its sex and give it a name, and were planning to unveil the mob's newest addition at a media event on Thursday.
"During evening zoo keeper rounds, the meerkat infant was not present in the exhibit," the zoo said in a statement on Wednesday.
"We had dedicated personnel monitoring the group throughout the day and it was sighted 30 minutes prior to evening checks.
"A thorough search of the exhibit and surrounds has thus far failed to find the meerkat."
Zoo staff are still investigating but say it may be possible the infant was preyed on by a bird, which is a problem for both zoo born and wild young.
"However, it is also possible that the infant has been illegally taken from its home," the zoo said.
"Meerkats require specialised diets and care.
"The health and welfare of the meerkat is our number one priority and if the youngster has been illegally taken, we appeal for its safe return."
The meerkitten was born on August 20.
Its mother, Bamba, was brought to Perth from Werribee Open Range Zoo in Victoria.
It is suspected Perth Zoo-born male Runako may have been the sire.
Perth Zoo is part of the regional breeding program for meerkats, ensuring a future for the species in case numbers collapse in the wild.