The Curraghs Wildlife Park has welcomed a new male Meerkat, with help from the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company.
The latest arrival at the park, which was transported from Chester Zoo by ferry, is part of plans to restart a breeding programme. Two of the park’s adult Coati were also transported by the Steam Packet Company, heading to a new home at Drusillas Zoo Park in the south of England.
These are the latest animal transfers assisted by the Steam Packet Company as part of its ongoing support for the Wildlife Park and its participation in breeding and exchange programmes alongside other members of the British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquariums and the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria.
Wildlife Park General Manager Kathleen Graham explained: ‘We stopped our Meerkat group from breeding a few years ago as the numbers in the mob (the term used for a family group of Meerkats) were a good size for the enclosure. However, we are now down to just five in the group and they are aging so we felt it was time to introduce a breeding male again to keep the family group going. We hope that we will have a new young generation again soon.
‘The male Meerkat came from Chester Zoo, but was accompanied on the Steam Packet Company sailing by keepers from Drusillas Zoo Park in the south of England. They then took away a pair of adult Coati from the park to be homed at Drusillas. The Wildlife Park has been breeding Coati very well this year and has lots of new baby Coati born in the last six weeks.’
The arrival of the new resident presented park keepers with the sometimes difficult task of integrating a newcomer into an established mob.
Kathleen added: ‘Introducing Meerkats to an established group is not an easy task as newcomers are treated with suspicion and often attacked. Meerkats identify the members of their mob by smell, so after speaking to keepers of a number of collections we decided to use a technique of disguising their scent. We put a mentholated vapour rub, the sort people use when they have a cold, above each Meerkat’s nose and tail, and all around the enclosure, to mask any smells and “blind” them to the fact that there is a newcomer. By the time the smell wears off the group has bonded, and that was successfully achieved with our new arrival.’
Steam Packet Company Chief Executive Mark Woodward said: ‘The Curraghs Wildlife Park does a tremendous job providing a wonderful attraction for visitors and residents alike. Alongside this, the park also does extremely valuable work promoting animal welfare and assisting breeding programmes throughout Europe by the exchange of animals. The Meerkat and Coati recently carried are only the latest in a long line of animals we’ve welcome on board, which has included Porcupine, Tapir, Lemurs and Kookaburra, and we look forward to continuing to support the park’s work.’
The Curraghs Wildlife Park in Ballaugh is open seven days a week during the summer from 10am to 6pm (last admission 5pm). Tickets and annual memberships can be purchased online at www.curraghswildlifepark.im