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Meerkats stand at attention in Tysons Galleria traveling art exhibit

Meerkats have taken over Tysons Galleria.

The 4-foot-tall, vividly colored replicas of the desert-dwelling critters started to emerge at the mall in mid-October before doubling their presence from 30 to 60 statues on Nov. 1.

The statues belong to a traveling art exhibit from the Italian collective Cracking Art, whose artists create work out of “recyclable” plastic to explore the relationship between the natural and artificial worlds, according to its website.

Tysons Galleria announced the exhibit’s arrival on Oct. 14, saying it hoped the “Meerkat Meetup” display would inspire “a sense of togetherness” and spark “conversation about caring for each other as well as the environment.”

“We wanted to bring this traveling art exhibit to Tysons Galleria as part of our continued effort to evolve our center as a premier spot for not only shopping but also lifestyle and entertainment,” the shopping center said in a statement. “We felt this was the perfect exhibit to present to our patrons because of what it represents — the meerkats standing tall in unison symbolize community and collaboration.”

Launched in 1993, Cracking Art describes itself as a movement of individual artists who share “a strong social and environmental commitment.”

With a dolphin as its first work, the collective uses animal sculptures to convey different meanings. Turtles, for example, represent perseverance and the connection between land and water, while snails’ regenerative abilities make them appropriate symbols of rebirth.

For “Meerkat Meetup,” the group was inspired by the animal’s reliance on teamwork and communication to survive in the deserts and grasslands of southern Africa that are their native habitat.

“The installation intent is to represent the importance of collaboration for dealing with and overcoming the events in our everyday life,” Cracking Art said. “In addition, by using vibrant and bright colours, we want to highlight the relevance of living with an open and positive approach.”

The meerkats will remain on display at Tysons Galleria from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. until the exhibit leaves for its next stop on Monday (Nov. 29).

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