Owning a meerkat is generally illegal without special permits, according to the World Wildlife Federation, or WWF. However, many conservation societies and zoos allow for the symbolic adoption of meerkats, in the sense of financially supporting the care of an individual animal or the conservation of the species.
Since 2002, the importation of meerkats to the United States has been illegal, states the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. They can only be imported with special permission from the director of the agency. Furthermore, in some states, meerkats are entirely banned. For example, they are illegal in Nevada, according to Born Free USA.
Some groups, such as the World Wildlife Federation and the Houston Zoo, allow people to vicariously "adopt" or sponsor meerkats. A meerkat adoption kit from the WWF serves as a donation to the conservation group, states the WWF website. Adopting a meerkat in this way does not constitute ownership of the animal.
Similarly, the Houston Zoo's adoption program allows people to fund the care of an individual meerkat held in captivity, states the Houston Zoo website.