Last night was movie night and we decided to watch Academy Award nominated Life of Pi. I had seen it before but Brenna had not so we broke out a box of facial tissue and pressed play on the DVD player.
Don’t worry. No spoilers here so feel comfortable to continue reading. I promise I won’t give any of the story away…
…except to say that at some point in the film our hero Pi ends up on an island inhabited by meerkats along with his tiger companion named Richard Parker.
Now this is actually a pretty deep scene in the movie with a ton of underlying meanings and symbolism and should not be just passed over which is hard to do with all these adorable meerkats cruising around. They are so cute.
An interesting thing about this scene in the movie is that meerkats were on this small island at all. (I will leave that interpretation up to you.) Meerkats get their name from Afrikaans and it translates to “marsh cat” or “lake cat” even though meerkats do not live near lakes or marshes …or on islands. They live in regions of southern Africa which are arid or at least semi-arid.
Another interesting thing about their name- Meerkats are not cats. They are actually members of the mongoose family.
I remember when I lived in Los Angeles I had an annual pass to the Los Angeles Zoo and I would go there a couple times per month. Right near the entrance was the meerkats exhibit and often times I would find myself there for a good hour just appreciating this cool little critter.
One of the things they do which makes me smile is they have this sort of sentry system where one or more meerkats will stand guard looking for enemies while the others in the tribe hunt and forage for food. Since the meerkats have predators from both the air and the ground they will stretch there necks to look up into the sky. It is so funny.
They did not have meerkats anyway so I found myself watching a television program called Meerkat Manor. Did you see the show? Well worth a look. The series told the story of several groups of meerkats, one of which was called the Whiskers, one of more than a dozen families of meerkats in the Kalahari Desert being studied as part of the Kalahari Meerkat Project. The show documented how the meerkats act communally for the benefit of the groups in which they live.
I have said in a previous post that regardless of your view on whether zoos are ‘good’ or ‘bad’ they allow the opportunity for folks to see critters up close and in person while they may never otherwise have the opportunity. Although southern Africa is on my list of places to visit who knows if I will have an opportunity to sit and watch the meerkats there?
If I do, one thing is for sure, I am certain they will make me smile.
What about you? What critters would you like to see in their natural habitat? Let me know in the comments as I would love to know your favorites.