April 5, 2018 6:26 pm
Updated: April 6, 2018 5:12 pm

Winnipeg zoo helping meerkat Francine find love

WATCH: Assiniboine Park Zoo staff introduced their lone female meerkat Francine, to some new friends Thursday.

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Staff at Assiniboine Park Zoo are playing matchmaker for a widowed meerkat looking for companionship.

Earlier this year, the zoo’s older male meerkat passed away, leaving behind 12-year-old Francine.

Zoo staff noticed she was lonely and started to look for a way to cheer her up.

“We brought some new ones in for Francine to have some company so now we have a group of five which is really fun to watch,” Zookeeper Lianne Thompson said.

“She is living with four boys which is actually how she prefers.”

The four slender-tailed meerkats were brought in from Calgary as part of the Species Survival Plan.

“These guys were specifically selected for their genetics,” Thompson told Global News.

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Meet Eduardo, Bentley, Aranos and Andulo, the four new meerkat brothers! After their brief stay in the Zoo Hospital where they met our female Francine, all five meerkats were returned to their home in the Kinsmen Discovery Centre. Animal Care staff carefully planned the sequence of introductions between the males and Francine, and Andulo was selected to meet her first. Meerkat introductions are known to be tricky, but these two hit it off immediately! The remaining three males were then allowed to join Andulo and Francine where they now all reside in the meerkat habitat. Within meerkat colonies, there is typically one dominant male and female, so zoo keepers continue to monitor the dynamic of the group. Be sure to stop by and see all the activity of our new meerkat colony on your next visit to the zoo! #assiniboineparkzoo #meerkat #savingspecies #speciessurvivalprogram

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While the male meerkats arrived in February, they only recently were carefully introduced to Francine.

“We actually covered the entire exhibit with baby powder,” Thompson explained. “The meerkats themselves were also coated in baby powder. That way when they come out into the exhibit everything is fresh and brand new and they are less likely to have dominance issues.”

“She took to them right away.”

RELATED: Mobs of meerkats ready to call Saskatoon home

While Thompson said the main reason the males moved to Winnipeg was for the company, it is an added bonus if mini meerkats are in the future.

“We did see some mating after about 10, 15 minutes which wasn’t what we were expecting,” Thompson said. “But definitely on the positive side in terms of introductions.”

Now they’re waiting to see if Francine is expecting, as her love, and possibly her family, grows.

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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