MORONGO VALLEY, CALIF. -- Over the years, scientific films and National Geographic specials have inspired visitors to a small, out-of-the-way meerkat sanctuary here. One of the draws was a resident meerkat who served as the model for Timon in The Lion King.
But that's nothing compared with the surge of interest since Animal Planet's hit series Meerkat Manor made stars of the Whisker family, the cooperative, contentious, highly dramatic animals that race through their days on the Kalahari Desert in South Africa at fast-forward speed, following the lead of their matriarch, Flower, an expert in realpolitik and breeding. Cartoonishly digging, play fighting, scent marking and war hopping, the Whiskers wind up even their toughest days in a group hug.
On TV Meerkat Manor airs at 8:30 p.m. tomorrow on Animal Planet.