Baby Meerkat Stolen From Perth Zoo Has Been Found
If you needed some cracking good news today, this is it.
A meerkitten that was stolen from Perth Zoo earlier this week is now back safe and sound with its family.
Keepers were devastated when the one-month-old wasn't accounted for during a routine evening check of the exhibit on Tuesday night.
Following a three-day search and inquires by Kensington Police, the Zoo announced in a statement on Saturday that the meerkitten has been found and returned.
A search warrant was executed at a house in Beverley around 6pm on Friday.
A man and a woman are currently assisting police with their inquiries.
Zoo staff are extremely relieved to have the little kit back, and have been tending to him since his return.
"He was very stressed and tired and hungry just like any bub that's been away from mum," Simone Vitali, senior veterinarian at Perth Zoo said.
"But after an evening of getting his favourite foods and a bit of warmth and a bit of quiet he's really bounced back quite well so we're quite happy with his progress so far."
Though doing well, it isn't out of the woods yet.
Vitali said the next step will be to introduce him back into the mob with the hope they haven't "decided to reject him."
"So, we're still in very early days," she said.
Following an immediate search of the exhibit and the surrounding grounds on Tuesday night, speculation as to whether it had been preyed on by a bird or illegally stolen began.
A problem for infant meerkats in both the wild and in captivity, it is not uncommon for birds of prey to take them.
Still too young for staff to get close enough to identify its gender or even give it a name, concern quickly developed for the meerkitten's well-being if it had been stolen by an individual.
"Meerkats require specialised diets and care," the zoo said in a statement on Wednesday.
"The health and welfare of the meerkat is our number one priority and if the youngster has been illegally taken, we appeal for its safe return."
Even when the team were told he had in fact been stolen and since found, they were "apprehensive" and concerned, given how these bubs tend to cope when separated from their mothers.
Before the abduction, the zoo was planning to mark the meerkat's birth with a public event on Thursday.
Perth Zoo is part of the regional breeding program for meerkats, which is working to ensure a future for the species in case numbers collapse in the wild.