Four young carers were given the chance not only to meet but to name the baby meerkats at Crocodiles of the World.

The crocodile zoo at Brize Norton partnered with local charity Be Free Young Carers, who ran a competition for the chance to spend the day at the zoo and help feed all the meerkats, as well as picking names for the pups.

The four lucky winners were Jayden Au, 10, Freya Darvill-West, nine, Leo Bush, 10, and Esther Peck, 15.

What names did they pick?

The babies are now officially called Zooey, Margo, Gary and Buddy.

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Esther said: "I am trying to get as many animal experiences as I can for when I go to animal and farming college next year.

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"I love animals and finding out about how they live and all the cool things they can do.

"We rescue dogs as a family and I also love to visit places with different animals."

Be Free Young Carers is the only specialist local charity in Oxfordshire that provides support to young carers who are caring for their loved ones. 

The youngsters and their families also got to explore the zoo which is home to over 100 crocodiles as well as Giant Galapagos tortoises, Tamarins, a Fishing cat and a Komodo dragon.  

Sabiene North, CEO of Be Free Young Carers said: “Being a young carer, they care selflessly for their loved ones, often missing out on chances to just be children and have fun.

"This collaboration is a great example of supporting children in our community, both raising awareness of worthy causes to improve the lives of children and their education.

"We are so grateful to Crocodiles of the World for giving our young carers an experience of a lifetime." 

The zoo's Meet the Meerkats Experience gives visitors the opportunity to get up close to the highly sociable and fascinating creatures. help feed them their favourite snacks and learn about their way of life.

The small mongoose species is known for their intensely watchful nature and the endearing upright stance they take while scanning their desert home.

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Allowing visitors to get up close also supports the zoo's conservation work.

Zoo director Shaun Foggett said, “We were delighted to be able to support such a great charity and to give the young carers an unforgettable experience here at the zoo.

"It was brilliant to see how much they enjoyed meeting the meerkats who are always very inquisitive. It was a great day.”  



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