The Great South African Prison Break
The first thing that comes to mind for many when they think about hyenas is that their vocalization sounds like uncontrollable laughter. But the hyena repertoire also includes bellowing, rumbling, lowing, squeaking, groaning, and whooping. What do hyenas have to talk about? Read on:
- Hyena communication—like that of humans—facilitates interactions in their large, matriarchal clans that contain up to 80 individuals. When members of a clan become separated, their calls can carry for more than 2 miles.
- Researchers study hyenas in the field to learn how large brains and intelligence evolved in relation to social complexity.
- Mother hyenas are affectionate and maintain close relationships with their cubs until they are almost fully grown—about 18 months.
- Hyenas’ hearts make up 10 percent of their body weight, giving them excellent endurance. They can run for far longer than lions or cheetahs.
- While all wild animals deserve to run free, hyenas will do just about anything to escape confinement—including chewing through an electric fence during a power outage at a South African wildlife park. The park’s manager noted that hyenas are bolder than lions when it comes to escaping, although when park employees approach them, the hyenas are timid, posing no threat to people.
- After a long day of running and a big meal, hyenas like nothing more than a cool mud bath. No word from researchers yet about what kind of gossiping transpires at these hyena spas.
Written by Heather Faraid Drennan