Our artist's impression of how meerkats will be able to thrive at the Sealife Adventure.

Animal rights campaigners have reacted with outrage and ‘extreme concern’ after it was announced that there are plans in place to introduce a number of new animal species to the Sealife Adventure on Southend Seafront, including meerkats. After a group meeting of activists was held at a local hotel last night, it was agreed ‘beyond all doubt’ that meerkats will not be able to survive in a tank full of water for more than about 15 seconds.

Joanna Quorn, who asked for her name to be changed for reasons of confidentiality, is acting as the spokesperson for the alliance of individuals who come from a variety of different pressure groups and organisations. She said: ‘While meerkats have recently become a real commercial draw for any tourist facility that keeps animals, we are astonished that a responsible attraction like the Sealife Adventure would consider introducing them into a habitat where they wouldn’t be able to breathe. Fish have gills that enable them to survive for long periods of time underwater, but meerkats do not have this luxury – no matter what the insurance adverts would have you believing.’

However, a source close to the Sealife Adventure told our Chief Reporter that they have already taken these factors into consideration. They said: ‘We are aware that the welfare of the meerkats has to be the most important factor when we introduce them to the Sealife Adventure family. Therefore, we have commissioned a specialist scuba diving equipment manufacturer to produce miniature breathing apparatus that will allow the meerkats to roam around our showcase tank area without fear of running out of oxygen.’

We were given a demonstration of how the equipment would work using a trial meerkat called Alexsandr Rode. He was able to breathe without any problems until the demo was cut short when he was eaten by a resident shark. Trials continue.