Safari park visitors warned to beware... after meerkats develop a fetish for human feet
Last updated at 1:28 PM on 27th May 2011Warning signs have been put up at a new attraction where meerkats mingle with visitors after the quirky creatures developed a fetish for human feet.
The small mammals have taken a liking to painted toenails and colourful sandals and jump all over them given the chance.
The bizarre foot fascination extends to the meerkats sniffing women's feet and one has even taken a little nibble at one visitor.
Foot fetish: A little Meerkat at Longleat Safari Park in Wiltshire jumps up onto one woman's ankle in an effort to grab her foot
Staff at the new Jungle Kingdom enclosure at Longleat Safari Park, Wiltshire, have had to put up signs to warn female guests about the odd fetish.
The new enclosure is the first place in Britain where people can interact with the cute critters.
Among the more inquisitive meerkats are the six new arrivals which have been venturing into the walk-through enclosure for the first time.
Keeper Catriona Carr said: ‘The babies seem to be settling really well into their new environment and are certainly not lacking in confidence.
Curious meerkat: The small mammals have taken a liking to painted toenails and colourful sandals
‘We've had to keep an eye on anybody wearing sandals or flip-flops, especially if they have painted toenails.
‘They seem to be more attracted to reds and blues for some reason.
‘We're not entirely sure what it is about the feet. It might be the bright colours of the footwear and toenails, the movement of the toes or even the smell.
‘As keepers it certainly keeps us on our toes to make sure the cheeky critters don't nibble any visitor feet!’
Warning sign: Staff have had to put up signs to warn female guests about the odd fetish
The new path through the enclosure in Jungle Kingdom enables people to interact with the animals, which are among the favourites at the park.
The six baby meerkats are now part of a group of 19 living in Jungle Kingdom at Longleat, with the majority all successful births from previous years.
Groups of meerkats are known as mob and originate from parts of Southern Africa, Namibia and the Kalahari.
Waiting for visitors: Baby Meerkats on the lookout for the first painted toenails of the day
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1391531/Longleat-Safari-Park-visitors-warned-meerkats-develop-human-feet-fetish.html#ixzz1NYWrhvOT