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One of Europe’s oldest meerkats dies at Barcelona Zoo

Wilson passed away in November aged 22


24 January 2022 12:49 PM


ACN | Barcelona

One of the Barcelona Zoo's most beloved animals, a meerkat called Wilson, passed away on November aged 22. Spanish newspaper El País first broke the news, which Catalan News later confirmed, on Sunday.

Since 2014, meerkat Wilson lived in its own space after being expelled by his family members due to his advanced age. This was one of the oldest suricates in captivity in a European facility, El País reported.

It is uncommon for Barcelona Zoo to name their animals, except for unique species such as Floquet de Neu, or Snowflake, the world’s only known albino gorilla that passed away in 2003, and Ulisses killer whale, still alive at SeaWorld San Diego, California.

Like other animals, meerkat Wilson did not have a name until 2015, after living alone in its enclosure. Pilar Padilla, zookeeper, explained to El País that the name comes from the "volleyball ball that Tom Hanks carries around in his 2000 movie Cast Away," she said, before adding that "the suricate was alone, such as the ball in the movie."

In remembrance of Wilson, zookeepers placed a plaque in the meerkats' enclosure.

Originally from the African Kalahari desert, meerkats are one of the most sociable animals in the world, they live in large underground colonies. Barcelona Zoo has had the specie since 1989 when Madrid Zoo and dutch Emmen Zoo gave several animals.

Should zoos remain open?

Founded almost 130 years ago, not long after the 1888 World’s Fair that took place in the Catalan capital’s Ciutadella Park, the Barcelona Zoo no longer captures animals like Floquet de Neu in the wild.

Nowadays it has almost 170 different species and over 1,700 individual animals, and since the approval of a 2019 city ordinance, it focuses on the “conservation, scientific research, and dissemination of wild fauna and its natural habitats.”


  • Meerkat Wilson (by Barcelona Zoo)

  • Meerkat Wilson (by Barcelona Zoo)