Want to experience drama? Danger? Action? And superlative cuteness?
Look no further than “Meerkats 3D,” a marvelous National Geographic documentary now showing at the Putnam Museum’s National Geographic Giant Screen Theater in Davenport. Meerkats, in case you’re wondering exactly what these creatures are, stand a tad more than 12 inches high — when they stand, that is.
Furry, with faces bearing a tiny bit of resemblance to that of an opossum, meerkats are fascinating. Actress Emily Watson (you may know her from last year’s “War Horse”) narrates as we see a meerkat community face loss, enemies and transitions.
With 3-D that puts you in the midst of the meerkats, the show took a year to film in the unforgiving Kalahari Desert, where these hardy residents not only survive but thrive.
The “mob” (meerkat groups are known as either “mobs” or “gangs”) is led by Klinky, the matriarch of the clan. Klinky always seems to be at the forefront of whatever is going on. Her young, called “pups,” must be protected at all costs. They are taught what to eat and when to flee by other members of the 20-meerkat group.
These animals live in huge burrows that connect underground and may have as many as 90 entrances. Usually, meerkats move into burrows abandoned by other animals. (They are expert diggers, however.) It’s delightful to watch them pop up from seemingly nowhere as they leave their burrows, which can be up to 61/2 feet deep, to hunt.
Their young learn to eat huge centipedes that normally are poisonous. Once the centipedes are rolled in the sand, though, they’re edible, and you’ll see a little one learning this trick. Additionally, a young meerkat makes a snack of a scary-looking scorpion.
The animals are affectionate and are seen grooming each other in greeting. Also, they baby-sit each other: One of Klinky’s older daughters keeps watch on her younger siblings. Many other meerkats literally stand guard over their gang.
Not every part of meerkat life is gentle and sweet. They drive out their own kind from time to time (and you will understand why when you see this happen), and mobs of meerkats try to invade others’ territory.
You may be surprised to see a group of meerkats band together in an attempt to drive away a deadly snake, which lashes out at the little warriors that bravely charge their foe.
Their intriguing way of life will charm you. Join your family and friends and become part of the meerkats’ unusual community.