Zoo Welcomes New Hyena

Rolling Hills Zoo is welcoming a new addition to its family.  Kito, a male spotted hyena, joins Maxi, the zoo’s female hyena. 

According to the zoo, Kito’s relocation from the Hattiesburg Zoo in Mississippi to Rolling Hills Zoo marks an important step in the Species Survival Program (SSP) for these majestic animals.

Born on October 17, 2022, Kito is a pivotal addition to the Spotted Hyena’s Species Survival Program, being the sole surviving hyena born in North America in 2022.  With his parents Niru and Pili, Kito’s lineage embodies a crucial part of the conservation efforts for these remarkable creatures.

Kito’s new habitat will be adjacent to Maxi, allowing the two hyenas to familiarize themselves with each other and their new environment.

The introduction of Kito and Maxi offers a unique opportunity for visitors to compare the distinct physical characteristics between African painted dogs and hyenas, as they often confuse the species.  Hyenas stand apart with their bigger stature, a large head with a long thick muscular neck, powerful jaws and spotted markings. African painted dogs have a colorful  patchy coat with markings as unique as a human fingerprint, large bat-like ears and a bushy tail with a white tip.  Contrary to the teamwork displayed by African painted dogs during hunts and nurturing ill pack members, hyenas exhibit more competitive behaviors.

While commonly recognized for their distinctive “laughter” vocalizations, hyenas use these sounds not as an expression of joy but rather as a response to stress, threats, or frustration.

The transfer of Kito to Rolling Hills Zoo necessitated the relocation of Iris, the capybara, to the south yard of the maned wolf exhibit. However, Azalea, Iris’s sister, will continue to reside in her current pond yard.

The public is invited to come see Kito, Rolling Hills Zoo’s newest resident, as he acclimates to his new surroundings and befriends Maxi, offering a chance to witness these fascinating animals up close.

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Photo via Rolling Hills Zoo