Animal Keepers at a North Anston wildlife centre are hand rearing two baby Meerkats after their mother abandoned them.
Tropical Butterfly House, Wildlife and Falconry Centre keepers Elisabeth Blezard and Amanda Linley are taking care of the pups, who have been named Sergei and Alexander after the popular TV advert characters.
The mother abandoned the babies when they were just nine-days-old. Measuring a tiny 8cm, they were incredibly fragile and seemed unlikely to survive.
But the keepers rose to the challenge and have been feeding the pups every two hours round the clock and keeping them warm in a heated brooder - usually home to newly-hatched chicks.
The babies are now around four-weeks-old and are looking strong and healthy.
Keeper Amanda Linley, said: “It was a difficult decision to rescue the baby Meerkats instead of letting nature take its course, but we wanted to give them the best chance of survival and it had become clear that Mrs Meerkat had made her mind up that she wouldn’t be caring for them.”
Hand-reared Meerkats often grow up to be relatively tame but this is not always for the best.
“The longer the baby Meerkats spend time with humans, the closer the bond will become and, although that might seem like a nice idea, it would make it more difficult to re-integrate the babies with the other Meerkats when they are old enough,” said Elisabeth Blezard.
The keepers will continue to hand rear the Meerkat pups until they are able to feed by themselves. They will then try to reintroduce them to the rest of the family.
n For more information about the Tropical Butterfly House, Wildlife and Falconry Centre, visit www.butterflyhouse.co.uk.