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Public debut for mob of meerkats

Visitors to a zoo will be able to compare its baby meerkats after a brood of five youngsters were allowed out of their burrow for the first time.

The quintet of African mammals have made their first public appearances at Chester Zoo after being hidden away by their parents since being born on April 20.

They have yet to be named because staff do not yet know whether they are boys or girls.

Zoo team manager Dave White said: "All of the pups are full of rough and tumble. They're a real handful for mum, dad and the other adults in the mob who, between them, are doing their best to keep them in check.

"At the moment our new quintet are much too small to sex but we should know if they're male or female in the next couple of weeks."

Meerkats are native to Angola, Botswana, Namibia and South Africa, living in underground burrows in large gangs or mobs of around 30.

They are territorial, marking their patch by rubbing scent pouches below their tails on rocks and plants.

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