Meerkats escape from captivity, roam around Westland town

A file photo of meerkats. Photo:
A file photo of meerkats. Photo:

Three meerkats who escaped from a private collection in ‘s-Gravenzande have been roaming the Westland town for two weeks but have so far evaded capture.

Local businessman Jan Knoppert, who also keeps penguins, alpacas and flamingos, said the meerkats were first spotted popping up around the house but have now extended their range to include the whole of ’s-Gravezande.

‘Every time we react to a sighting they are long gone. They are very quick,’ Knoppert told local broadcaster Omroep West.

Biologist Eva Schippers from animal protection organisation Stichting AAP said the the meerkats may not survive in the colder Dutch environment.

‘They originally come from countries such as Botswana and Zimbabwe. It’s not that warm here now so they could be at risk,’ she said. ‘Finding food may also be difficult, living on insects and small mammals as they do.’

Owner Knoppert said locals are leaving food out for the elusive meerkats. ‘The whole village is looking after them. But we are afraid they will move to the dunes which are very near.’

Keeping exotic animals, such as meerkats, will become a thing of the past when new legislation comes into force in January 2024. People who already have animals that are on the new list will be allowed to keep them but not breed them.

Check out Jan Knoppert’s photos

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