On a recent visit to the Honolulu Zoo I noticed a wobbly meerkat trying to dig a hole. “Bobbles” was born with a medical problem. Based upon observing him for a time I believe it is probably cerebellar hypoplasia. This condition effects coordination and balance. He is easy to spot as he teeters his way around the enclosure. According to his keeper Caitlin, the rest of the meerkats accept Bobbles as a gifted member of their family. They accept him as he is, wobbles and all.
When I volunteered at a different zoo, I met a Mata Mata turtle with an imperfect shell. As a young turtle, the calcium in her diet was deficient. Instead of a normal dome shaped shell, her shell was flat. I thought we should design a nice, comfortable enclosure that would allow visitors to see this turtle and learn about the importance of proper diet for all animals. We could even include an x-ray of a normal Mata Mata turtle and one of this girl to highlight the problem. The curator refused because he didn’t want to display imperfect animals!
I wish to commend the Honolulu Zoo for allowing Bobbles to stay with his family in the main meerkat enclosure. He and his family are a wonderful example of acceptance for us all. Please enjoy meeting this extraordinary meerkat!