Meerkat rescued after jumping into sea off ship

An escaped meerkat has been plucked to safety by the captain of a cargo ship after going overboard.

The meerkat, named Boris, went in off into the sea off Cornwall on Thursday after he and another meerkat escaped from a caged box.

Doris, the second meerkat, was captured by the crew, but Boris went over the side of the Gry Maritha after a sailing from the Isles of Scilly.

Skipper Tom Sexton went over the side to bring Boris to safety.

The drama unfolded after the Gry Maritha docked at Penzance.

Owner Stephen Griffin, who was taking Boris to the Axe Valley Zoo in Axminster, Devon, said both the meerkats were running around the deck.

"They caught Doris but Boris jumped 30ft (10m) into the water," he said.

"A crewman jumped over the side to save it and they lowered a box down on a rope."

The three-year-old meerkat, described by his owner as "not a good swimmer", is now safe and dry at his new home in Axminster.

"It was great to have him back and I'm so grateful to the crewman," he said.

"Boris looked very cold but he survived and seemed quite happy."

Tom Sexton, who rescued the animal, said: "I watched him go over the side and saw he could swim, so I had a bit of time to get changed into something a bit more decent, you know.

"We managed to catch one of them and put it in a box, but the other one legged it straight over the edge.

"I sort of didn't believe they could swim. When you look on the internet, it says they can't swim as well.

"I looked over the side as he went down and sure enough there he was swimming around. So I went and got changed. I had gloves on because I knew they were a bit bitey, so I just jumped in and went and got him."

Tom said rescuing the meerkat was "easier" than he thought it would be - adding the animal "was quite glad" to be caught.