Police hunt vandal who wrecked meerkat enclosure and caused breakout

Police hunt vandal who wrecked zoo’s meerkat enclosure to cause a mass breakout of the furry creatures that caused havoc on Southend seafront

  • Mob of meerkats from Sealife Adventure zoo in Southend-on-Sea escaped  
  • Vandal was caught in CCTV footage standing on top of the meerkat enclosure  
  • Sealife offering £1,000 reward to anyone with information that leads to arrest

A mob of meerkats were set on the loose when a thoughtless vandal broke into a zoo and destroyed their enclosure. 

Meerkats from Sealife Adventure zoo in Southend-on-Sea were left to cause havoc after the criminal broke in and ruined their home. 

CCTV footage from the zoo shows the vandal climbing all over the meerkat enclosure – even on the roof. 

CCTV footage shows the vandal shaking the glass sides of the meerkat enclosure at Sealife zoo in Southend-on-Sea as well as standing on the roof

Lucy Hodge, Sealife’s director, believes the meerkats would have been so scared that they would have run away from their home hoping to seek safety. 

A rescue mission was then launched to save the meerkats, who managed to reach the seafront, and get them back to their rightful home. 

The terrified meerkats were forced to flee their home in an attempt to find safety. Stock picture

Because the zoo was closed when the break-in happened, Sealife workers had to be called in very quickly to help round up the meerkats.  

Melissa, who was working at nearby Adventure Island, stepped in to help. 

Ms Hodge said: ‘The meerkats recognised Melissa’s Blue shirt (the same colour as the Sealife Adventure Team) which encouraged them to rally around her.’

Animal keeper Nick arrived next and was able to coax all of the meerkats back to their home, apart from one. 

Ms Hodge added: ‘Our last meerkat was cowering behind the mini-golf kiosk – because of distress caused by the thoughtless act of vandalising their enclosure. 

‘Curator Nicki – who co-ordinated the rescue, squeezed behind the kiosk, and the meerkat was soon bravely caught by a community support police officer.’ 

Two members of staff stayed with the meerkats overnight to ensure they were kept safe and that the vandal didn’t return. 

Ms Hodges and other members of the rescue crew are now desperate to help police catch the vandal who put the meerkats at risk and are offering a £1,000 reward for anyone with information that leads to an arrest. 

She said: ‘We would urge anyone with any information about this crime to come forward, and to this end are offering a reward of £1000 along with a Sealife Adventure and Adventure Island Annual pass as well a chance to meet our meerkats.’     

The meerkats at the zoo grew up in the, now defunct, Tropical Wings in South Woodham Ferrers.

They joined the centre in 2017, which was already and established aquarium with sting rays and sharks.

Meerkats live on a diet of insects, spiders and scorpions.

For safety, packs of meerkats will stand on guard together side by side on a high viewpoint.  

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