Meerkat Training School

Keepers at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo have been training with a group of meerkats to prepare them to appear in a special weekend of live demonstrations with BBC’s Deadly presenter Steve Backshall, on 25 – 27 July.

Among other mammals and birds, the Deadly summer shows will feature the four female meerkats, Gabby, April, Digger and Pipsqueak, exhibiting a range of natural meerkat behaviours, such as “standing sentinel” on top of a termite mound to look out for approaching dangers.

Meerkat Training School

The furry four are also being trained to scamper after and pin down rubber snakes and scorpions for the demonstrations, and run through underground tunnels. They also show off their impressive digging skills!

Although mostly insectivores, wild meerkats also eat snakes, lizards and occasionally small birds. They even have some immunity to certain types of venom, such as the very strong venom of the scorpions of the Kalahari Desert.

Meerkat Training School

Deputy Team Leader Rebecca Feenan, said: “Training our meerkats here at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo isn’t too different to training our birds of prey. It requires a lot of patience and a lot of it comes down to the relationship you build with each animal.

“Gabby, April, Digger and Pipsqueak don’t have very long now until the big Deadly weekend, so fingers crossed they pick it all up before Steve arrives!”

The Deadly summer shows run from 25 – 27 July at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo and tickets can be booked at


More news from ZSL

Giraffe calf Margaret takes her first steps outside

A giraffe calf takes her first steps outside as UK families head back to ZSL Whipsnade Zoo for the first time in months 

A white rhino knocks down cardboard boxes

ZSL Whipsnade Zoo’s ‘crash of rhinos’ knock down a giant ‘WE ARE OPEN’ sign on the day zoos reopen

Brown bear Sleeping Beauty at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo

Brown bear Sleeping Beauty and her sister Cinderella come out of winter hibernation just in time for the reopening of ZSL Whipsnade Zoo