It seems you’re using a browser that is a little past its time and our website might not be able to perform as it should.

If you’d like to have the best experience on, you can easily update your browser to get the most out of our website and many more for that matter.

dismiss this message

Meet the meerkats

By Jarrod 10 Aug 2012 • 3 Comments

Wellington Zoo Meerkat EncounterMeerkats: Despite the name, not actually cats.

I know, I know, it seems like false advertising; if they were going to be totally accurate they’d call them meersmallmongooses or something like that.

We’ll leave my fair trading complaint re: meerkats to one side for the moment, however, as I have exciting meerkat-related news. From August 18, Wellington Zoo will be adding meerkats to the short list of animals they’ll allow you to touch with your actual human hands (under the supervision of a qualified zookeeper, of course).

More specifically, they’ll allow the meerkats to touch you - if you buy a meerkat encounter, you’ll be taken into their enclosure, where the curious little furballs will “investigate” and possibly “climb” you (it’s apparently a good idea to wear long pants and closed-toed shoes).

Before long, they’ll have accepted you into their “mob”, “gang” or “clan” (thanks, Wikipedia) and will be expecting you to contribute to group welfare by participating in sentry duty and helping them forage. At least that’s what I assume would happen if the Zoo didn’t eventually ask you to leave... sadly the meerkat encounters only last 30 minutes.

Perhaps during that time it’s best to pretend to be a warthog, in order to live your dream of playing a supporting role in the Lion King. Or perhaps not.

Meerkats join cheetahs, giraffes, red pandas and big cats as potential encounter animals; each encounter has a slightly different price and different requirements. The meerkat encounter costs $90 per person (minimum two people, maximum four) and is suitable for children as young as four, as long as they’re accompanied by a paying adult. 10% of the proceeds from all encounters go to supporting conservation projects, both domestically and internationally.

Having already done the big cat, cheetah and giraffe encounters (I highly recommend all three) I can’t wait to add this one to my list.

Wellington Zoo


Wellington Zoo

Home to New Zealand's native treasures and endangered exotic animals, you can get up close and personal with wildlife at the Zoo.

Add your comment

  • Helen Youngman 22/08/2012 5:35pm (5 years ago)

    Ever since fighting a battle with cancer, I have been eager to try new things, like swim with Moko the dolphin, and do things just a little unique. Meercats I adore, ever since seeing the first meercats in Auckland, many moons ago!!!!

  • lacey 22/08/2012 12:08pm (5 years ago)

    i want!!!! love these critters

  • Bel 10/08/2012 4:18pm (5 years ago)


Discover more


Welly summer guide with small people

Fret not parents, here are some ideas to help entertain your small people in Wellington this summer.

See & do By Erica 15 Nov 2017

Barber Shop Chronicles at the National Theatre c Marc Brenner 41 large

Spoilt for choice at the NZ Festival

2018 is a Festival year, and no matter what you’re into, this one looks to be quite the ride.

Arts & culture By Jarrod 1 Nov 2017

  • Close
  • Show nearby