Zoo Welcomes Hyena

Rolling Hills Zoo has a new member in its animal family.

According to the zoo Maxi, a spotted hyena has arrived.

This is the first time this species has been a part of the Zoo, and there are plans to add a male hyena in the future.

Born October 2012 at the Pairi Daiza Zoo in Belgium, Maxi moved to Zoo Miami, Florida in 2019. “Maxi is an amazing and charismatic animal. She’s everything and more that you could ask for as an ambassador of her species, hopefully changing some minds about hyenas,” shared the staff at Zoo Miami.

“We are happy to have Maxi here,” commented Brenda Gunder, RHZ’s Curator. “She is a beautiful animal and we have already fallen in love with her.”

While Rolling Hills Zoo’s African painted dogs have often been mistaken for hyenas, the two species couldn’t be more different. Hyenas are larger with spotted markings, while African painted dogs are smaller with a more slender shape and mottled marked fur. African painted dogs also have large round ears compared to the smaller ones sported by hyenas.

African painted dogs are part of the canine family. Hyenas are not dogs, but are more closely related to mongooses and cats. In the wild, hyenas are scavengers and will never pursue a kill unless desperate. Instead they’ll wait for other predatory animals to tire from a kill and then scavenge the carcass remains. They are also more competitive over food and spend a lot of their time fighting with each other.

In comparison, African painted dogs are team players, caring more about the well-being of the pack rather than individual dominance, sharing food and caring for an ill or injured pack member. As active hunters, they will work as a pack to take down their prey.

Spotted hyenas are commonly referred to as the laughing hyenas, with over eleven different vocalizations. The “laughter” vocalization is a series of high-pitched giggle-like sounds. Rather than being associated with having a good time, this vocalization is generally made when they are threatened, under attack or even frustrated.

Rolling Hills Zoo invites everyone to come out to meet Maxi, the zoo’s newest resident and newest species.