The Hartpury meerkats are back from their vacation and have moved into a plusher pad after the college upgraded their living quarters.
Their enclosure has been revamped to ensure that the meerkats feel as comfortable there as they would in the wild. As well as adding improved drainage, new pipes and logs will allow the meerkats to dig and burrow to their heart’s content, something which they would spend a large majority of their time doing in the wild.
Pipes and rocks also allow for shade and privacy as well as providing elevated sites which act as lookout-posts. These allow them to survey the surrounding areas for predators, which would be vital for security in the wild.
Hartpury students will also reap the benefits of the new ‘meerkat manor’ as they get the chance to study the animals and gain a true hands-on experience, having already played a role in improving their Hartpury habitat.
Amy Garside, 17, a Level 3 BTEC Extended Diploma in Animal Management student from Dursley, said: “I love working with the meerkats, and it’s great to see them in the new enclosure, which more closely replicates their natural habitat.
Tilly Wilkes, 17, from Ledbury, who is also a Level 3 BTEC Extended Diploma in Animal Management student, said: “It’s great to see the meerkats happily expressing natural behaviours and it was really enjoyable to help with improving the enclosure for them.”
The college runs a range of animal management courses and the hands on experience the students gain provides a valuable step into the industry, ensuring the students are both knowledgeable and boosting their chances of securing a career in the industry.
Animal Collection Manager, Colin Stevenson, said: “We’re all really pleased with the new enclosure, which gives students more opportunities to observe the meerkats behaving as they would in the wild. We’ve also been increasing their enrichment activity to improve their wellbeing.
“It is so important for our students to gain hands on experience and the meerkats offer something different within our collection. The students were also able to gain valuable experience in animal management and husbandry by helping practically with the adaptations made to the enclosure.”