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Program Meerkats 3D

  • 1. Prepare the cards.

    Play the game in groups of 2-4. Print one Meerkats Survive! handout for each player, and cut out all of the cards. Put them all together and shuffle them. Place the cards in a stack in the center of the playing space. 

    2. Prepare the "pups."

    Count out 25 buttons, beans, or other counters. Put them all in a cup or bowl. Give each player three counters to start. These are your “pups.”

    3. Think about predators and prey.

    These adorable meerkats are part of the Kalahari Desert ecosystem, made up of sand, trees, plants, rocks, and animals. This wild place challenges the meerkats, who are both the hunter and the hunted, or predator and prey. You can look at the videos to see how meerkats work together to survive. Then look at the photos of the animals meerkats might encounter in the desert. Which are predators of the meerkat, and which are prey? Read the captions to find out.  

    4. Play the Meerkats Survive! game.

    The Meerkats Survive! game will show you the challenges of helping and protecting meerkat pups. The game includes predators and prey. Your goal is to grow as large a meerkat family as you can. To play the game:

    • Take turns drawing and reading the survival cards out loud. Each card is either saved or played. 
    • A card marked “Predator” must be played, and the player may lose a pup. 
    • “Prey” cards allow the player to gain a pup. 
    • A card marked “Save” may be used later in the game to rescue the pups from a predator. 
    • After all the cards are played, the player with the most pups wins. Your family has survived in the desert!
  • Materials You Provide

    • 25 buttons, beans, or other counters per group
    • Card stock to print cards (optional)
    • Cup or bowl
    • Scissors

    Required Technology

    • Internet Access: Required
    • Tech Setup: 1 computer per classroom, Projector, Speakers
    • Plug-Ins: Flash

    Recommended Prior Activities

  • Background Information

    Meerkats live in family groups. Small groups have about seven meerkats. Large groups can have thirty or forty members. The dominant female, or matriarch, generally leads the group. This female and the dominant male are the only members to have babies. All the meerkats in the group work together to feed, protect, and teach the pups.


    One adult meerkat stays at the burrow with the newborn pups each day, while the other adults find food. This babysitter role changes from day to day.


    While feeding, meerkats rely on the sentry meerkat. The sentry looks for high ground, such as stumps and termite mounds, to keep a lookout for danger. The sentry lets out a steady stream of high-pitched noises so the feeding meerkats know all is safe. If there is danger, like a snake, the sentry calls out an alarm. Scientists know about 30 different calls meerkats make to one another.


    The digger meerkats take time out of hunting to deepen existing burrows and make bolt holes throughout the feeding area.


    When the pups are large enough, most group members take turns being a teacher meerkat, helping the pups to locate, capture, and safely kill their prey. Hungry pups make a begging sound. The adult meerkats can’t take the whining and give them food.


    Term Part of Speech Definition Encyclopedic Entry
    ecosystem Noun

    community and interactions of living and nonliving things in an area.

    Encyclopedic Entry: ecosystem
    interdependence Noun

    people relying on each other for goods, services, and ideas.

    matriarch Noun

    female leader of a family.

    organism Noun

    living or once-living thing.

    predator Noun

    animal that hunts other animals for food.

    prey Noun

    animal that is hunted and eaten by other animals.