Thu, 11 Oct 2007 17:12:00
LIttle ‘kat diary
If you are a watcher of The Whiskers, you might enjoy a chat with a Meerkat Manor producer. Having watched a bajillion of these animal shows, I’m familiar with the hard line that these documentary makers take: no medical interference, even to save the life of a long-time subject.
Here’s a couple of the more Flower-pertinent questions and some others I found interesting.
bencollinz: Wasn’t there any way to give Flower anti-venom?
Mick Kaczorowski: Unfortunately not. The bite happened underground. It wasn’t until Flower emerged that everyone actually saw the swelling. At that point, you have to let nature take its course. There was no way we could intercede or change the effects of the poison.
diesel75: How is medical intervention determined?
Mick Kaczorowski: There’s no medical intervention with the animals in Meerkat Manor. Because they are wild animals, basically, the scientists don’t believe that they should intercede because they don’t want to have an effect on the gene pool by saving a weaker meerkat. Or affecting the outcome of what’s natural in the Kalahari.
It sucks, but that’s nature. A side note of sorts: There was less of a reaction by the fans when various pups have been shown to die than when Flower went. Everyone who watches this addictive little show loves that 12”. little furball.
This next one seems - at least to me, the non-animal-scientist type - to break the rules a bit....
David: Mick, I have noticed when the researchers are around the meerkats, the meerkats seem to be more curious about the researchers. Are they all like that?
Mick Kaczorowski: The researchers have a much more integral relationship with the meerkats. The researchers weigh the meerkats three times a day. So, when the meerkats see the researchers and the scales come out, they know they’re supposed to hop into the scale and their weight is taken. And they get a little bit of egg white, boiled egg, and a little taste of water. That happens three times a day in order to monitor the health of the meerkats, to see if they’re getting enough food. So, they actually look forward to seeing the researchers.
I’m sure the amount they give them is negligible and more of an enticement to hop in the scale, but still...you wouldn’t see Jonathan Scott from Big Cat Diary slipping Kike a bit of sandwich. Of course she peed on his head once, so he might hold a grudge. :)
So, how do they get those amazing battle shots?
thepanda: How do you get the “up-close” shots during the meerkat battles?
Mick Kaczorowski: The interesting thing is when the battles happen, the meerkats are completely oblivious to human beings, researchers and the camera crews. So, the camera people can actually get amongst the meerkats with the camera and just follow the battle. It is truly amazing. When I was out there in March, we had a big battle and the meerkats are just oblivious to the humans and they’re only looking at other meerkats and their rivals and how to win the war.