Photographer Robin Hoskyns works with meerkats on a regular basis as a research assistant in South Africa’s Kalahari Meerkat Project, but what he captured while observing a family on a recent outing was no ordinary day in the desert. The notoriously tight-knit cuties will typically keep their newborns underground in burrows for about three weeks after birth, or however long it takes for their eyes to open. Until they gain the ability to react to the world around them, they are helpless. These meerkat pups in particular were in deep trouble one afternoon Hoskyns was observing them. Thankfully, the babies had some brave parents and babysitters that were protecting them.
Hoskyns explained how he knew something unusual was happening when they began emerging from the burrow much faster than their typical leisurely pace.
When he saw the young pup being taken outside, he was assumed it was dead until he saw it move its head.
Usually, pups remain in the burrow until they are old enough to venture out.
More were then brought out into the sunlight one by one, five pups in total.
The menacing reason for the quick evacuation: a puff adder who found its way into their cozy home.
Hoskyns then noticed that the dominant female, who had been doing most of the heavy lifting, had been bitten by the adder.
She was joined by four sub-adult meerkat who were smaller and not quite up to the task.
But that didn’t stop her from making sure each of the pups made it out to safety.
The dominant female then carried the pups, one by one, about 300 meters away to a new burrow they could use for shelter. All of the little critters survived the harrowing ordeal, which Hoskyns described as “up there with the top wildlife experiences I’ve had… I’m glad I took my camera out that day.”