Meerkat at Zoo Leipzig, also known as "Leipzig Zoological Garden" (Germany)
The Meerkat or Suricate, are a member of the mongoose family and it is the only member of the genus Suricata.
Meerkats live in all parts of the Kalahari Desert in Botswana, in much of the Namib Desert in Namibia and southwestern Angola, and in South Africa. Unlike other mongooses which are solitary and nocturnal, meerkats live in large groups and come out during the day. A group of meerkats is called a "mob", "gang" or "clan". A meerkat clan often contains about 20 meerkats, but some super-families have 50 or more members. They are burrowing animals with four sharp claws on their feet for digging. They are often seen standing up on their hind legs, propped up by their tails,
looking out for birds. If they spot a predator, they give off an alarm call to warn the rest of their group.
In captivity, meerkats have an average life span of 12–14 years, and about half this in the wild.
"Meerkat" is a loanword from Afrikaans. The name has a Dutch origin, but by misidentification. Dutch meerkat refers to the "guenon",
a monkey of the Cercopithecus genus. The word "meerkat" is Dutch for "lake cat", but although the suricata is a feliform,
it is not of the cat family, and neither suricatas nor guenons are attracted to lakes; the word possibly started as a Dutch adaptation
of a derivative of Sanskrit markaţa (monkey), perhaps in Africa via an Indian sailor on board a Dutch East India Company ship. The traders of the Dutch East India Company were likely familiar with monkeys, but the Dutch settlers attached the name to the wrong animal at the Cape.
The suricata is called "stokstaartje" (little stick-tail) in Dutch.