The element that stands up in the novel is Archie’s visits to the zoo to see the meerkats. The meerkat is a small carnivoran belonging to the mongoose family. Meerkats live in all parts of the Kalahari Desert in Botswana, in much of the Namib Desert in Namibia and southwestern Angola, and in South Africa.
Archie continuously talks about Elvis, one meerkat, being the alpha male. In studies of social animals, the highest ranking individual is sometimes designated as the alpha. Males, females, or both, can be alphas, depending on the species. Where one male and one female fulfil this role together, they are sometimes referred to as the alpha pair. Alpha animals usually gain preferential access to food and other desirable items or activities, though the extent of this varies widely between species. Male or female alphas may gain preferential access to sex or mates; in some species, only alphas or an alpha pair reproduce.
Another subject that is important in the novel is surrogacy. Surrogacy is a method or agreement whereby a woman agrees to carry a pregnancy for another person or persons, who will become the newborn child’s parent(s) after birth.Commercial surrogacy arrangements are not legal in the United Kingdom. Whilst it is illegal in the UK to pay more than expenses for a surrogacy, the relationship is recognised under section 30 of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 1990. Regardless of contractual or financial consideration for expenses, surrogacy arrangements are not legally enforceable so a surrogate mother maintains the legal right of determination for the child, even if they are genetically unrelated. Unless a parental order or adoption order is made, the surrogate mother remains the legal mother of the child.