PERTH Zoo’s newest baby has gone missing one day before its public debut.
Keepers believe the meerkat kitten was either taken by a predatory bird or stolen by a zoo guest.
During evening rounds, zookeeper discovered that the meerkat infant was not present in the exhibit.
“This was despite personnel monitoring the group throughout the day and the infant being sighted 30 minutes earlier,” a zoo spokeswoman said.
“A thorough search of the exhibit and surrounds has failed to find the meerkit.
“At this stage, the zoo is still investigating the incident, however it may be possible that the infant was preyed on by a predatory bird, which is a problem for both zoo born and wild young.
“It is also possible that the infant has been illegally taken from its home.
“Meerkats require specialised diets and care.
“The health and welfare of the meerkat is the zoo’s number one priority and if the youngster has been illegally taken, we appeal for its safe return.”
The zoo had been planning a special unveiling tomorrow morning of the meerkat mob’s latest addition, who was born on August 19.
It had only recently began exploring the outside world with the rest of its mob, having spent its first few weeks in a nest box.
The baby meerkat’s mum, Bamba, was brought from Werribee Open Range Zoo in Victoria to be introduced to the male mob at Perth Zoo.
Zoo officials suspect that Perth Zoo born male Runako may have been the sire.
Perth Zoo is part of a regional breeding program for meerkats.
Anyone with any information should contact Perth Zoo on 9474 0444.