Hamilton Zoo's double dose of baby meerkat cuteness
Meerkats at Hamilton Zoo are breaking down age-old gender stereotypes, with one of the males stepping up to play stay-at-home dad.
The zoo has been blessed with a double dose of cuteness in the meerkat enclosure as their only female, Pitch, gave birth to twins on February 1.
Traditionally, meerkat mums take sole charge of babies and hide with them for the first few weeks, but zookeeper Vanessa Rowe said one of the males in the enclosure had been helping out.
"Normally the mum isn't supposed to come out, but she's been out and about and Chima has been in looking after the babies. When they were really little, he used to go around and check that they hadn't fallen down anywhere," she said.
Zoo curator Samantha Kudaweh said they were unsure of the babies' gender as yet, but the pair were looking very healthy. They will be named when their gender has been determined.
"They're very playful and active, interested in their surroundings and already very involved in the daily life and routines of the zoo's meerkat mob," she said.
The twins are the first successful litter for Pitch.
"We're very excited about it because we've been waiting awhile for a successful breeding," Ms Kudaweh said.
Meerkats mature and grow quickly, and are able to breed from 1 year old. Their natural environment is the dry areas of southern Africa, particularly the Kalahari Desert. They live to between 12 and 15 years.