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Historic moment at Planckendael with birth of two spotted hyenas
For the first time in its history, Mechelen animal park Planckendael has announced the birth of two spotted hyenas.
Zookeepers originally counted three newborns in the den of hyena mother Luena. Unfortunately, one of the pups was probably stillborn.
“The newborn puppies are indescribably endearing. You don't expect that from these animals with their impressive stature and expressive snout. They’re also immediately viable with their fur and open eyes, they’re even fairly fierce and curious,” says keeper Frederik.
Spotted hyenas are the largest, loudest and most aggressive of the species. The new pups are also very enterprising and the zoo expects them to quickly explore their outdoor enclosure, located in the African continent.
Planckendael participates in the European Endangered species Programme (EEP), particularly for spotted hyenas. Its objective is to ensure the survival and protection of threatened species.
Although the spotted hyena’s gestation period is only four months, the first pregnancies often don’t end successfully. They can give birth to up to four young in their burrows, with usually only one or two surviving.
Now, with hyenas Bongo and Luena and their new pups, the animal park is helping to rehabilitate the species, which remains largely unknown to the general public. As hunters and scavengers, they’re not the most likeable animals, playing a major role in disposing of carcasses in the wild, although this helps limit the spread of disease.
It’s not yet known if the pups are male or female. With hyenas, females are the leaders of the clan and larger than males. They even resemble them because their sex resembles a penis and they have a lot of testosterone in their bodies. The males live on the edge of the group.
All of Planckendael’s newborns in 2022 have a name starting with the letter X. The park’s looking for names suitable for the new pups and invites suggestions via its Instagram account. The keepers will choose their favourites.
Photos: courtesy Planckendael/Jonas Verhulst