Thursday, May 18, 2006

Family Of Meerkats Treat Filmmakers Like Rocks

MORONGO VALLEY, Calif. (Wireless Flash - FlashNews) – It’s one thing to be a fly on the wall, but what if a “mob” of meerkats treated you “like rocks.”

That was the situation faced by the filmmakers of a new mammal-reality series on Animal Planet called Meerkat Manor.

According to one of the scientists who helped produce the show, Pam Bennett-Wallberg, during the ten years it took to study the two rival “mobs” of African meerkat families that star in the show, the highly social animals became so “habituated” to having humans around, they treated them as if they were “rocks.”

In Bennett-Wallberg’s words, “Meerkats are so intelligent, they figure out right away whether another creature is predator or prey, and when they don’t, they just ignore them from then on.”

Bennett-Wallberg says the social intelligence of meerkats lends them to highly dramatic interactions, with such turns of betrayal and family politics, that the show becomes “highly mesmerizing and addictive viewing.”

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