There is much more to learn about these social desert dwellers. Zoo scientists have been studying the social lives of meerkats since 1993. In collaboration with researchers in South Africa, the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute's director, Steve Monfort, found that evicted females suffer chronic elevations of a stress hormone that suppresses reproduction. This is the first time a stress-related reproductive suppression has been found in any cooperatively breeding animal.
Adopt a meerkat and help support conservation efforts at both the National Zoo's D.C. campus and the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute in Front Royal, Virginia.
Photo by Miles Roberts, NZP