The birth of seven mongoose pups, some kept under wraps for months by zoo officials, was finally revealed Wednesday.
The litters, born on September 12 and November 24, include three males and four unsexed puppies respectively, Chicago Zoological Society spokeswoman Sondra Katzen said in a statement.
The pups are the first for the mother, 3-year-old Tavi. Their father is 13-year-old Gimbi.
The animals are born with their eyes closed; they open when they're about 13 days old. Puppies begin to play fight after their eyes open. This is practice for when they are older and need to defend their own territories
Katzen said Mongooses are very gregarious and have a highly cooperative society with well-developed social roles. There is one dominant female and male in a group as well as subordinate males and older offspring. The subordinate males and older offspring usually help care for the younger pups in the group.
The Brookfield Zoo has had dwarf mongooses since 1993. It is one of 12 accredited zoos in North America that exhibit the species, officials said. Zoo visitors can see the family in the Habitat Africa! The Savannah exhibit.
In the wild, mongooses are found in the dry open savannahs, woodlands, and brush of Africa and use underground den sites in the roots of trees or termite mounds for shelter and to give birth.