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Program Meerkats 3D


1. Make a meerkat!

Get everything you’ll need to make your meerkat. You’ll find the list in the What You’ll Need tab. The pictures and the instructions show you what to do. You can also look at photos of real meerkats to help make your critter look like the ones in the wild. The last step is to make your meerkat stand tall. The tail—which is like a third leg—is a very important body part!


2. Play “take-away” with your finished meerkats.

Play a game about your meerkats adaptations. To play, cover a body part and quiz yourself or a friend about what would happen if your meerkat lost that adaptation. For example:

  • Take away the dark coloration on the stomach. The meerkat would be unable to warm up quickly in the morning sun. The meerkat would lose important time hunting for breakfast.
  • Take away the dark circles around the eyes. The sentry meerkat would have a hard time seeing predators or other meerkats approaching across the sunny desert. The whole meerkat family would be in danger .
  • Take away the tail. The meerkat would not be able to stand tall on its hind legs to scare off snakes, look out for danger, and defend its group.
  • Take away the claws. The meerkat would not be able to dig well, making it hard to create burrows and bolt holes and dig for prey.
  • Take away the closable ears. Sand could clog a digging meerkat’s ears. This could make it hard to hear the sentry meerkat’s calls.
  • Take away the tan color, and change to a bright color. Predators could more easily spot the meerkat in the desert.

What You’ll Need

Materials You Provide

  • Brown construction paper
  • Craft eyes
  • Fine-point black marker
  • Glue
  • Pipe cleaners
  • Rubber bands
  • Scissors
  • Tan-colored felt, 8"x8" square
  • Tan-colored sock
  • Tape
  • Tissue or paper towel
  • Two plastic forks


Background Information

How are some animals special?

Some animals have interesting body parts. An elephant’s trunk is unique. What are other animals that have special—even strange—body parts? Make a list. Here’s a challenge: Can you think of eight animals with interesting body parts?

Why do some animals have special body parts?

Some animals have unique adaptations that help them survive better in their environment. For example, elephants can’t bend their short necks to reach food and water. Elephants’ adaptation is their long trunks. They use them to smell, reach food, drink water, and play with other elephants. How do the animals on your list use their adaptations?

Animal survival

What do all animals need to live? Animals need food, water, shelter (a home), and protection from danger. Humans need these things too! Animals that live in different habitats fulfill their needs in many ways. Look at the photo of the three real meerkats standing. What does it look like where they live? How do you think they meet their needs?


Term Part of Speech Definition Encyclopedic Entry



a modification of an organism or its parts that makes it more fit for existence. An adaptation is passed from generation to generation.

Encyclopedic Entry: adaptation



to dig a small hole or tunnel.



animal that hunts other animals for food.



animal that is hunted and eaten by other animals.

Learn More


Media Credits

The audio, illustrations, photos, and videos are credited beneath the media asset, except for promotional images, which generally link to another page that contains the media credit. The Rights Holder for media is the person or group credited.


Jeanne Wallace-Weaver, Educational Consultant


Anne Haywood, National Geographic Society

Educator Reviewer

Mary C. Cahill, Middle School Science Coordinator, The Potomac School, McLean, VA

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