HE IS the cute little character that has won the heart of the nation.

Popping up everyday on our television screens, baby Oleg has become the real star of the Compare the Market adverts.

But visitors to Hampshire don't have to rely on a cartoon anymore to get their fix of cute baby meerkat action, because Marwell Zoo has not one but three of the real thing.

The fluffy triplets are taking their first tentative steps out into the big wide world, under the watchful eye of their proud parents Macbeth and Choggy.

The healthy pups were born three weeks ago but are only now just starting to find the courage to venture out of their burrow to explore their new home.

They are the first litter for three-year-old Macbeth and four-year-old Choggy who seem to be coping well with their newfound parenthood.

The new family are now on public view but in a private den away from the main meerkat enclosure.

Jody Geary, senior keeper for carnivores, said: “The birth of three healthy meerkat pups is fantastic news and we are all very excited by this arrival. Marwell's keepers are keeping a close eye on Macbeth and her litter and they are all doing well.

“First time mum, Macbeth, is doing a great job looking after them and the caring duties are being shared with dad, Choggy. The energetic pups have been finding their feet - they have been out and about playing and crawling over mum.

“One of the pups is particularly brave and tends to lead the other two when they are making new discoveries.”