Family farm hand-rears meerkat pups after mother abandons them. Simples . . .

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Baby Oleg may have had a happy ending with his resettlement in Africa in the popular television commercials.

But a real family of baby meerkats are currently being hand-reared at Shirebrook’s Willow Tree Family Farm after being abandoned by their mother.

The pups are around two weeks old and are being hand-reared by farm director David Anthony.

He said: “Their mother disowned them after they were born a couple of weeks ago and left them out in the cold, so we had to intervene.

“We had to take them in hand or they would have died. In the wild there might be around 20 females in a meerkat group and they would all produce milk and all take a turn with childcare.

“But we only have four meerkats in our group and the mother is the alpha female, so she’s abandoned them effectively to save her own position in the group.”

David said that he is currently feeding the pups through the night and hopes to slowly reintegrate them back into the group as they get bigger.

The farm, in Landwith Road, is open from 10am to 4.30pm each day.

For more information go to www.willowtree-farm.co.uk/