x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Mongooses make merry in Al Ain

The Al Ain Wildlife Park and Resort's animal collection has grown larger with the addition of 20 banded mongooses.

Originating from sub-Saharan Africa, banded mongooses are well acclimated to the desert.
Originating from sub-Saharan Africa, banded mongooses are well acclimated to the desert.

AL AIN // The Al Ain Wildlife Park and Resort's animal collection has grown larger with the addition of 20 banded mongooses.

Native to sub-Saharan Africa, they are well accustomed to the desert heat of Al Ain. The sociable animals live in mixed sex groups of seven to 40 members. The average group has 20 members. Weighing up to two kilograms and reaching up to 40cm long, banded mongooses, known as Mungos mungo, have similar features to weasels, with dark bands across their brown or grey fur. Their diet consists of small vertebrates such as snakes and birds, invertebrates such as beetles or termites, and fruit.

"Like their close cousins meerkats, banded mongooses are highly social animals that live on arid plains and landscapes, and enjoy meeting and chatting in family groups throughout the day," said Farshid Mehrdadfar, the park's animal collections manager. "The banded mongoose is an important species on the plains of Africa both as prey and predator. We hope that guests will enjoy visiting this active and mischievous group of animals."

Although they are not endangered, mongooses are considered a vital element in the delicate ecosystem of the arid plains of Africa. They are now part of a 4,300 animal collection at the park, of which 30 per cent are on the endangered species list. The mongooses are next to the park's black-back jackals. The four female and two male jackals arrived in April. The park also recently added two caracals, a male and female that were donated by a family in Yemen. In June, the park was asked to take in five cheetah cubs that Dubai Customs confiscated from a smuggler.

The park is open from 10am to 6pm from Sunday to Wednesday, and 10am to 7pm from Thursday to Saturday.

ealghalib@thenational.ae