Wellington Zoo is now offering MEERKAT ENCOUNTERS. The capital letters are there to try to convey my excitement when I heard the news. I don’t think even capital letters can convey how excited I was when the zoo invited us along to meet the meerkats for ourselves. I’m making it my aim to touch all the animals after all.

Meerkat encounters usually cost $90 and happen at 4pm, which is actually a really great time at the zoo because animals are just starting to wake up and become more active. What is special about the meerkat encounters is that anyone over the age of four can do the encounter, because there’s not a lot of danger in the meerkat mistaking small children for food, unlike with the cheetahs.

The keepers will let you into the enclosure and guide you over to some logs where you sit your ass on a cushion and wait for the curious meerkats to come over. Pro tip: try to sit on the lower down logs, because that way you are more likely to have a meerkat climb on you. They’re fed cat biscuits and scamper around while you waggle rosemary branches at them because meerkats love scents. The keepers will also answer any questions for you (for example, the way you can tell male & female meerkats apart is pretty much the same as humans – look at their genitals. Pervert). One meerkat will always keep lookout for the others, and when a plane flies overhead, you can giggle as they all run for cover at his warning.

If you’re super lucky, there may even be meerkat babies for you to awwwww at. We were that lucky, as you will see in the cool photos taken by Kim from Whisky&wry. The meerkat mummy Feta even wanted to come over and say hi to us, but she got waylaid by babies feeding off her instead. Encounters last half an hour, and are pretty unforgettable. If you can afford it (10% of the money goes to conservation programmes in the wild, by the way), you should definitely give an animal encounter a go.