Meerkat Manor

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Fandom
Name: Meerkat Manor
Abbreviation(s): MM
Creator: Animal Planet
Date(s): 2005-2008
Medium: Television show
Country of Origin: Produced in UK, filmed in South Africa
External Links:
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KNOw Life 17 by Furrama.jpg

Meerkat Manor is an Animal Planet docudrama spanning four seasons and a movie, documenting and dramatizing the lives of real meerkats in the Kalahari Desert. It ran from 2005 to 2008. The fandom was notable for the creation of many role-playing forums, as well as tributes to the individual animals in the form of videos, poems and “letters.” It was also notable for its wide age range of fans, including children to seniors and every generation in between.

Today there are a couple barely-active forums remaining.

Canon

Meerkat Manor focused on the lives of a meerkat mob (family) known as the Whiskers. The show was based on real events, but sometimes simplified things or had meerkats "played by" other meerkats.

Flower was the dominant female of the Whiskers who wore a collar and a fan favorite. She was killed by a snake bite in 2007 at the age of seven years. This saddened many fans and is said to have resulted in a lower viewership of the show for its fourth and final season. A movie about her was made later, using footage of other meerkats. Zaphod was the dominate male of the Whiskers and Flower's mate. He actually lived to 2011, far past the show's ending.

Other meerkats who lived within the Whisker's family that often had their own story lines, and who were also named in season one's intro, were: Yossarian (Zaphod's brother and Flower's former mate), Shakespeare ("the courageous one"), Mozart ("the caring one"), and Tosca ("the rebellious one").

Shakespeare was one of Flower's adult sons. He went missing at the end of season one, though in the show it was somewhat implied that he had been killed after a raid on the Whisker's burrow by a rival mob. The executive producer, Mick Kaczorowski, said "we didn’t find a body. We don’t know the way it ended. He disappeared. We presume he’s dead."[1]

Mozart was Flower's daughter who often had pups but rarely raised them to adulthood. She was stated to have been killed by a jackal in the show, but in reality she is believed to have been eaten by a bird of prey. Tosca, another of Flower's daughters, was driven off after having pups. She disappeared, thought to have been killed during the winter months due to being alone. Both Mozart and Tosca were Shakespeare's litter mates.

There were a few other mobs that combatted with the Whisker's. This includes the Lazuli (dominant male Big Si), the Commandoes (Dominant male Hannibal), and the Aztecs (dominant male Zaphod and dominant female Maybelline, a pup of Flower). In the show Big Si contracted tuberculosis and was euthanized to prevent a devastating outbreak to local meerkats and livestock.[2]

Outside of the mobs another fan favorite was Carlos, a roving male who mated with Mozart, Tosca, Kinkajou and other females. The show claimed he was killed by an infected wound, but really it was tuberculosis.

Fandom

Response to Researchers

Some fans were angered when researchers at the Kalahari Meerkat Project did not intervene to save meerkats from predators or other dangers. Others supported the project by buying merchandise or becoming a Friend of the Kalahari Meerkat Project (a program which ended in 2018.)

Role-Playing

Role-playing in the Meerkat Manor fandom was done in various forums. Some used the official Animal Planet subforum, “Meerkat Manor Mix" while many others created their own websites. OCs and crossovers were very common. Some RPs were serious in nature, while others were more like games and meant to be silly.

There was a community of Meerkat Manor roleplayers on Furcadia during the show's popularity. The meerkat roleplay fizzled out a couple years after the show ended, though this also coincided with a dwindling user base on Furcadia. The main meerkat roleplay on Furcadia was in a dream called "The Suricate." Upon searching for this dream online one will find only vague, one-off references to it. Furcadia player Cyris asked in 2011 "if the owner of that dream is out there anywhere, and if so, give me a hollar on Saheeli or Kiden. I'd like to chat about getting it reuploaded again."[3] There are no screenshots of this dream anywhere, though thanks to a long-abandoned Youtube channel by a kid named MitchtheCoolMeerkat a small collection of The Suricate videos exist.[4] There are also a few videos of a dream that was inspired by The Suricate, created due to the dream having gone down sometime in 2010 or 2011.[5]

In these Furcadia dreams roleplayers could take on a number of canon roles, such as Flower or Mitch, or could otherwise make their own meerkat original characters. There were usually pre-made burrows that a dominant meerkat could claim for their mob. The owner of the dream would then have them write a short blurb about their mob, which would automatically populate in the chatbox when a player entered the burrow. At least two gangs from "The Suricate" are confirmed: The Whiskers and Shifting Sands. These groups were rivals and fought often through violent roleplay.[6]

Tributes

Tributes to the meerkat Flower after her death were so common that Animal Planet created two subforums so the others wouldn’t be overwhelmed by them. “FLOWER MEMORIAL” was used for music-based tributes, such as playlists and original song lyrics. “In Memoriam- Tributes” was used for poems, prayers, visual art, and fan letters- from the point of view of the fans to Flower, or from Flower to the fans, or written as if from Zaphod, Flower’s then-living mate.

Fanworks often involved Heaven and the Rainbow Bridge, or ghosts.

Tributes to Flower, Shakespeare, Mozart and other meerkats were also created on youtube.

Example Fanworks

Visual

Fanfiction

Videos

Fansites & Communities

Links & Resources

Meerkat Manor Forums - Official Animal Planet forums where much of the fandom was based.

References

  1. ^ When Bad Things Happen to Cuddly Critters on TV, LA Times. Sept 22, 2006 (Accessed 6/27/2020)
  2. ^ Meerkat Manor, Wikipedia. (Accessed 6/27/2020)
  3. ^ The Suricate {an Old Dream I Used to frequent), Furcadia Forums. May 26, 2011 (Accessed 6/15/2020)
  4. ^ Random Meerkat Fun, Youtube. Circa 2009 (accessed 6/15/2020)
  5. ^ Cryptid:Too cool (Furcadia meerkat AMV), Youtube. Circa 2011 (Accessed 6/15/2020)
  6. ^ Editor's Note: I was there and was involved in the roleplay. My friend played Mitch and I played Waffle.