February 27, 2015
Most people know meerkats from the character Timon in "The Lion King" animated movie, and now two -- one male and one female -- of the furry mammals native to Madagascar, call the Ardastra Gardens, Zoo and Conservation Centre home.
You can be the first to see the animals, and the opportunity to name the lovable creatures on Sunday when the new meerkat exhibition is officially opened to the public. The exhibit opening that welcomes in the month of March takes place at 2 p.m. at the zoo and conservation center. The person who gives the winning names will win a prize.
"We've had meerkats before, but these are new meerkats, and we have a new home for them at the zoo, and we're launching them to the public," said Beverly Turnquest, marketing manager at Ardastra.
During the opening, animal curator James Traverse will be give a talk on the meerkat and where the animal comes from. It's an unveiling Turnquest said would appeal to children and their parents.
"Ardastra is very popular, particularly with school groups and school children [and] when you go out, a lot of kids say 'Oh we've been to Ardastra and you know the human nature, been there done that, but what's very important to let them know is that we're continuously looking to bring in new animals for their enjoyment and educational purposes. And if you don't want to travel to Madagascar to see them, you can just come to the Ardastra," she said.
Meerkat paw print painting will also be done on the day.
While the unveiling will be a short event as it is being held on Sunday, Turnquest said guests are free to stay and enjoy the flamingo show and the Lorrie parrot feeding or do a self-tour. The event will start at 2 p.m. It's a very short event as it's on Sunday, but guests are free to stay on property to do a self tour, to enjoy our flamingo (that roam the zoo freely) show and the lorie parrot feeding encounter.
"There are about 153 different animals [a mix of birds, mammals and reptiles at the four-acre property] so there is quite a bit to see actually," said the marketing manager.
Prior to this weekend's unveiling, the last exhibition to be unveiled at Ardastra Gardens, Zoo and Conservation Centre was the domestic pigs also known as teacup pigs exhibit on January 10. The teacup piggies don't grow to the full size of a hog, and as an adult, they usually weigh about 30 pounds, which is small for pigs.
The cost for entrance into the meerkats exhibition is $10 adults, and $5 children up to age 11. Funds raised from the unveiling go towards caring for the meerkats, the doctor bills and their food.
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