THE SKITTISHNESS OF MEERKATS. Patrick McGroarty had an article in the Wall Street Journal (April 29) about meerkat habituators. Meerkats are notably skittish, and meerkat habituators spend thousands of hours getting meerkats accustomed to human contact. Although scientists who study meerkats benefit from having meerkats be comfortable with humans, the habituators also make it possible for tourists to get close to meerkats. It can take months for a habituator to edge closer and closer to the meerkats, and the habituators have to maintain their dawn to dusk presence or the meerkats may lose their habituation.
Mr. McGroarty quotes an habituator: “You don’t become their friend. You become a tree basically.”
Patrick McGroarty also produced this YouTube video about meerkat habituation.