Meerkats love melodrama.
When photographing meerkats, make sure you have a TV (Ideally, a giant plasma screen) handy. Turns out they love to watch movies. But not just any movies, mind you. Oh no. Turns out they are hopeless romantics. Betcha didn't know that, didya?
In fact, when you see them all grouped up in the wild looking into the distance, they are in fact looking for signs of Drew Barrymore, Katherine Heigl, Kate Hudson or Jennifer Aniston.
Side note: This grouping of meerkats is usually called a gang, mob or clan if you're a devotee of National Geographic, Discovery or Animal Planet but I prefer "girl's night out" and am waiting for Lifetime to do a series "The real housewives of Botswana"...ahhh, but I digress.
Back to the shoot...
Fortunately, being the worldly and sensitive guy I am, I had a large collection of romantic comedies in studio perfect for my afternoon session with this lovely creature whose real name was Suma but who I nicknamed Sally (after the title character in...yup... "When Harry met Sally")
So we watched scenes from:
"He's just not that into you"
"The Wedding Singer"
"Maid in Manhattan"
"Pretty in Pink"
"50 First Dates"
Note: " I totally drew the line at "Sex in the City" (sorry SJP. Would rather drink bourbon with Matthew rather than cosmos with you)
At this point, the folks assembled in my studio had gone through 2 boxes of kleenex, 3 pints of Ben and Jerry's ice cream, a box of chocolate covered cherries and 3 bottles of white zinfandel. I on the other hand was trying not to hurl and focusing on Suma/Sally.
At the end of the day, I filled a 16mb card and everyone hugged. Ahh, catharsis.
For those of you taking copious notes on working with animals, know that this shot was taken during Meg Ryan's famous scene in "When Harry met Sally." No, not the scene in the deli; meerkats find loud orgasms startling and makes them seek shelter (much like some of my lesser-male friends...if you're reading this, you know who you are.)
No, this was taken when Sally was placing her order in the restaurant earlier in the movie. (Turns out meerkats are picky eaters, too.