Meerkat alpha females are cannibals

Fluffy, cuddly meerkat moms devour babies of their own species, The Washington Post reports. In a meerkat group, the alpha female kills and even eats pups born to other females in order to secure food and free nannies for her own babies. To quantify the benefits that alpha females gain from such behavior, researchers gave subordinate female meerkats contraceptive shots that stopped their reproduction for 9 months. During that time, the dominant female gained more weight and groomed bigger pups, while the subordinates provided more food and care for the alpha’s babies, the researchers report in Nature Communications. Remember that next time you watch The Lion King.

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