In the African Journey at the Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo, you’ll find two spotted hyenas, Grubby and Askari. This breed of hyena is more commonly referred to as the “laughing hyena,” but unlike those depicted in Disney’s The Lion King, they are far from foolish. According to Zookeeper Jennifer McDermott:
They’re very intelligent animals. They get this bad reputation of being kind of dumb and shy and cowardly but they’re really really smart and I don’t think people really quite understand the hyenas.
Zookeepers take care of the exhibit by checking the perimeter, changing the water, and even scooping poo. They’ll also scatter some enrichment around the exhibit to encourage foraging.
Zoo staff feed the hyenas meat every day and bones once a week, but they don’t get inside with them. They are considered a dangerous animal, so the zoo staff are very hands-off. According to McDermott:
They have such a powerful bite that they would bite probably clean through our arm easily without thinking twice about it.
The hyenas may sleep a lot during your visit to the zoo, but they are by no means lazy. In fact. they can run up to 35 mph for long periods of time, often running their prey to death.
The females are also dominate within the species. They’re in charge and often boss the smaller males around.
You can say “hi” to the hyenas at the zoo all summer long!
Wild on WANE airs each Thursday on First News and First At 5, and each weekend on First News Saturday.