World unique: the Safari Park holds all existing hyenas and aardwolves. The newest additions are the brown hyenas.

Visitors to the Dvůr Králové Safari Park have a unique opportunity to observe all known hyena species. A pair of brown hyenas have now inhabited a habitat of the Joy Adamson Carnivore House, thus completing the existing collection of three additional species. They are very rarely seen in human care.

The massive mane on their backs, which gave them their Czech species name, contrastingly striped paws, huge ears and front legs significantly longer than the hind ones. The appearance of the brown hyenas makes them one of striking of all carnivores. A pair of these remarkable animals now inhabit the Joy Adamson Carnivore House. "They are new here and are gradually getting used to the outdoor habitat," says zoologist Gabriela Linhart about the very rare addition. For observant visitors, this is a complete sensation; according to the ZIMS world database, only two gardens in Europe, apart from Dvůr Králové, keep this species. Outside of Africa, five others.

"It's a young couple who are harmonizing. That's quite rare for adult brown hyenas in human care. We hope that everything will continue to work similarly well," adds the zoologist. Brown hyenas can be solitary in the wild, or they can form groups of up to 10 individuals. "The male is a nomad who roams the Kalahari desert looking for females to mate with. The hyena mother, on the other hand, is sometimes accompanied by older cubs who help her raise their younger siblings. If a pack forms, there may be other females with young," explains Gabriela Linhart. The not fully explored sociality of brown hyenas may also be the reason why breeding in human care is not very successful. The bonding of adult animals often ends in serious injuries. In addition, females are extremely sensitive to disturbance during the breeding season.

The almost two-year-old animals, which headed to the Podkrkonoší region from a breeding centre in South Africa and moved to the public part of the safari park after completing a compulsory quarantine, are adjusting well. With the rising temperatures, it can be expected that they will spend more and more time in the enclosure.
The arrival of the brown hyenas provides zoo enthusiasts with a unique opportunity to observe all existing hyena species in one place. Right next to the brown hyena enclosures, visitors will find another rare sight: the aardwolf. These are even fewer in human care than the brown hyenas. "In nature, they are a kind of carnivore analogue of aardwarks. They spend the day hidden in burrows and roam at night in search of food, which consists almost exclusively of termites. Creating a suitable feeding ration for hyenas is a challenge that few breeders dare to take on," says Gabriela Linhart. Breeding also has a number of other pitfalls.

Traditional inhabitants of the safari park are spotted hyenas, which visitors can observe in the new large enclosure of the West Cape exhibit, and striped hyenas in Josef Vágner African Safari.

"Hyenas are an extremely interesting group of animals. Although they are a small family with only four species, they are animals with very different requirements, which in some cases are extremely demanding for breeders. Individual species differ from each other in size, social structure, diet, mode of reproduction and geographical distribution. What they have in common is their dwindling numbers in the wild, the few unknowns still surrounding their way of life and, last but not least, their peculiarly sensitive, somewhat introverted but mostly peaceful nature," explains Gabriela Linhart of the reasons why the safari park sought to acquire all representatives of the family. "Moreover, the reputation of hyenas is somewhat tarnished due to their not-so-good image in pop culture. There are many untruths and nonsensical myths about them. Their image among many people is very inaccurate, and hyenas and aardwolves are absolutely essential to ecosystems," she adds.

The family of Hyaenidae is represented by four species of carnivores in the world. Despite their somewhat canine appearance, they are more closely related to cats and especially civets than to dogs.

The Brown hyena lives in southern Africa, especially in South Africa, Namibia and Botswana. It inhabits arid, semi-desert and desert areas. However, it often goes to the seashore, where it eagerly feeds on the carcasses of sea lions or their young, or on whales and other marine animals. In a pinch, it won't despise roots, tubers or wild melons. Unlike other hyenas, males are larger than females. The male also often leads a clan of several adults. Multiple females may breed in such a group, nursing their own and each other's offspring.



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