Oakland Zoo Becomes New Home for Hyenas

Oakland, California (EastBayDaily) — Three spotted hyenas recently moved into their new home at Oakland Zoo. The hyenas (two males and one female) relocated from the Berkeley Hyena Center, where they were part of a colony being studied by UC Berkeley researchers. The research program was facing funding cuts and needed to find a forever home for part of their colony. Colleen Kinzley, Oakland Zoo’s Director of Animal Care, Conservation, and Research, found out about the situation and put plans in place to acquire them.

The hyenas ages range between four and five years old, which is significantly younger than Oakland Zoo’s two elderly hyenas (aged twenty and twenty-four). Because of the dramatic age difference of the two clans, Oakland Zoo’s Keepers have decided not to integrate the hyena groups, instead the elderly pair and younger trio will be kept separated. Modifications were made to the hyena habitat, which included dividing up the current exhibit yard, adding new outdoor holding, as well as making changes to the internal night house area.

“This new clan of hyenas is the future of our hyena program here at the Oakland Zoo,” said Victor Alm, Zoological Manager. "By accepting this new younger clan the Zoo is continuing to show our commitment to animal welfare as well as the Spotted Hyena for years to come."

In captivity, hyenas can live up to thirty-five years of age, although most live into their mid to late twenty’s. Guests at the Zoo may be able to see the new hyenas resting, scavenging throughout the exhibit for their diet, or chasing each other (a normal interaction in hyena society). Other behaviors to be witnessed include vocalizations ranging from whooping to groans, grunts, or squeals. The characteristic laugh that many people associate with hyenas is a sign the animal is anxious or uncomfortable. Males and females can be distinguished by their size. Female hyenas are larger than males and socially dominant over males.

Oakland Zoo’s five hyenas consume pork neck bones and a specialized carnivore diet. Hyenas in the wild can eat up to one-third of their body weight in one feeding. They eat all body parts of their kill, including skin, teeth, and bones. These animals are known for their bone crushing abilities, meaning they can actually eat and digest bone from their prey. They are crepuscular, meaning they are most active at dusk or dawn. Hyenas sleep a lot during the daytime in shaded areas of their exhibits, which include barrels, covered areas, and places they can blend in with their surroundings.

ABOUT OAKLAND ZOO: The Bay Area’s award-winning Oakland Zoo is home to more than 660 native and exotic animals. The Zoo offers many educational programs and kid’s activities perfect for science field trips, family day trips and exciting birthday parties. Nestled in the Oakland Hills, in 500-acre Knowland Park, the Zoo is located at 9777 Golf Links Road, off Highway 580. The East Bay Zoological Society (Oakland Zoo) is a nonprofit 501(c)3 organization supported in part by members, contributions, the City of Oakland and the East Bay Regional Parks. For more information please visit our website at http://www.oaklandzoo.org.


Nicky Mora
Oakland Zoo VM

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