If you’ve walked through the Children’s Zoo lately, you may have noticed some serious construction. We’re building a habitat for an animal that has never before been featured at the Houston Zoo: banded mongooses!

Banded-Mongoose---By-Warwick-Tarboton

Nope, it’s not a meerkat – it’s a banded mongoose! Credit: Warwick Tarboton

Only 5 zoos currently have banded mongooses. They are very social animals, and they are active during the day. They live in central and southern Africa in a savanna habitat, and you can usually find them around termite mounds. This is why we’re building an artificial termite mound in their habitat, along with plenty of hollow logs, so the mongooses can feel right at home!

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Drawing of the banded mongoose exhibit

Kids will also have the chance to crawl through tunnels and pop their heads up into a clear dome right in the middle of the mongoose habitat to get an up-close and personal view of them (and a great photo op!).

The tunnels are covered up with plastic while we are working, but you will be able to pop right up in the middle of the exhibit!

The tunnels are covered up with plastic while we are working, but you will be able to pop right up in the middle of the exhibit!

While their habitat will be finished this summer, it may be a bit longer before our banded mongooses can call it home.

It’s a complex process to bring them here to the Zoo, as it is with any animal. First, another zoo that has banded mongooses tells us they would like to send some over to us. Then, we apply for permits in order to bring the animals to our zoo. When the permits go through, we have to figure out how to get them here. In this case, we will fly them here on an airplane.

Gratuitous photo of adorable banded mongoose!

Gratuitous photo of adorable banded mongoose! Credit: BBC UK

After the mongooses get to the Houston Zoo, they spend 30 days in quarantine, away from all the other animals, while we do vet checkups and make sure they do not have any diseases or other problems that may spread to the animals already at our Zoo. After 30 days, they are ready to be introduced to their new home!

Spraying on concrete to create a rocky effect for the outside of the habitat

Spraying on concrete to create a rocky effect for the outside of the habitat

Once the habitat is finished and while we are anxiously awaiting banded mongooses, there will be another adorable inhabitant: an African-crested porcupine.

You'll get to see the African crested porcupine in this habitat until the banded mongooses get here!

You’ll get to see the African crested porcupine in this habitat until the banded mongooses get here!

We will keep you posted as construction progresses!