Here, proof that these small relatives of the mongoose have supernatural cheer-up qualities.
By Amy Shearn
Cats are cute. Sloths are super cute. But on those really dark days, those bluer-than-blue days, when your boss sends you off with a "Do it over," someone lets the door slam in your face in the exact moment that your paper shopping bag disintegrates and then even your cheer-up hot cocoa explodes in the microwave, you need something more. You need meerkats.
Meerkats, like this group from the Auckland Zoo in New Zealand, live together in colonies of 20 to 30. When they see reunite after a separation, they lick one another's faces. Cute points: 1,000.
This meerkat is probably standing sentry so the others in her colony can forage, but doesn't it look like she's just mincing about? "What? This old fur? Why, I only wear this when I don't care how I look!"
Recipe for a rough day: Look at this picture of a triple cuddle at the Melbourne Zoo. Imagine you're the middle meerkat. Repeat as necessary.
They Take Fun Seriously
The scampering clan at Brooklyn's Prospect Park Zoo stays frisky with toys like a boomer ball. Get this: In the wild, some meerkats will stand sentry while the others play, so they don't have to be all distracted worrying about getting eaten. Do you know anyone who makes playfulness such a high priority?
They Model Confidence
Meerkat young are known to show off. Here, a couple of pups at the Butterfly House in South Yorkshire, England, chew the scenery.
This noble view of our favorite mongoose relative suggests that not only are meerkats darling and fluffy, they also have big, dreamy thoughts. (Okay, maybe they are just always on alert.) Dave Jackson's Prolific IT photo stream on Flickr is full of bright lovely animal pics like this one.
They Give Piggyback Rides
Meerkats babysit one another's offspring. And sometimes a meerkat that has not had a baby will lactate to feed another's young. I mean, wouldn't you? Look at that little buddy. John Bennett has many moments of meerkat cuteness on his Flickr photo stream.
"Could we be cuter?"
"I don't know. I guess we could put on beanies..."
"Okay. But let's cuddle more first."
How can I guarantee that meerkats lower your blood pressure? Because my kids and I visit the crew at the Prospect Park Zoo, where I took this picture, almost weekly. Usually the frisky meerkats are racing around, but sometimes one of them just sits around and stares right into your eyes, like, "What?"