A trio of cute furry critters has been responsible for driving the best holiday season attendances ever experienced at Snakes Downunder at Childers, one of the Bundaberg Region's premier tourist attractions.
Owner Ian Jenkins said three female meerkats had proved to be a major drawcard at Snakes Downunder over the Christmas/New Year holiday period.
“They may be diminutive in size but they are gargantuan in appeal,” he said.
Quirky and quizzical, it’s the mannerisms of the meerkats that makes them so endearing.
“They regular stretch to their full height of about 30cm where they appear to survey their surroundings with such intensity, always drawing oohs and ahhs,” said Ian.
“The three females, two at two years of age and one at 12 months old, are a close family group.
“They do have an aversion to being handled, but at times while feeding them I can have them come up to me and gently place a paw on me.
“The females will be joined in about three weeks by a male and we do hope to commence a breeding program. It may take years for that to happen however.”
The animals have been at Snakes Downunder for several months after coming to Childers from Western Plains Zoo at Dubbo.
Meerkats, which are carnivores, require regular feeding.
“I can see the funny side of the fact that I started with snakes that I fed once a week, graduated to koalas which are fed once a day to meerkats that are fed four times a day. They like their regular treat of earth worms.”
Ian said visitors can experience a Meerkat Encounter simply by phoning ahead to arrange the appointment.
Snakes Downunder Reptile Park and Zoo has steadily expanded over the years and hopefully within 12 months komodo dragons will also take their place among the attractions.
The zoo also has its very-well publicised crocodile “Macca” which sampled a little of Ian’s hand four years ago. Currently Macca and his mate have nested and are visually protective of their eggs.
However, for the time being it’s the meerkats that rule the zoo at Snakes Downunder!
Snakes Downunder Zoo and Reptile Park is located at 51 Lucketts Road, Childers, phone 41263332.