Before we come down from the amazing high Monarto Zoo's Cheetah cub has us all on, I'm excited to inform you of another addition to our carnivore family. On Tuesday, June 12 shortly after 2:00am Kigali, our 15 year old Spotted Hyena, gave birth to a single cub. All appears well with the cub seen suckling regularly and Kigali getting plenty of rest. Spotted Hyenas usually have one or two cubs and this is Kigali's fourth litter at Monarto in six years.
Mum, Kigali, at Monarto Zoo.
Kigali has remained on exhibit for public display throughout her gestation, housed with her daughter, Forest, and male, Gamba. As she's still on exhibit the sex of her cub will remain unknown for a few weeks yet, even to keepers. Kigali and clan are continuing their routine of coming off exhibit each morning for their food, while the cub hides away in an especially dug-out section at the rear of the den. Although hyena cubs are born with eyes open, a full set of teeth and the ability to move around it's not brave enough to venture out of the den, and therefore is not visible to the public. It will be at least a few weeks before the cub ventures out on its own accord. Keepers and vets will give a health check and sex the cub at around six weeks of age. Female Spotted Hyenas have a pseudo-penis, male like genetalia, and this makes confirming the sex of hyenas difficult. Although an animal may look to all appearances like a male...it could well be female!
Kigali is doing a great job looking after her cub.
While the cub remains in the den keepers are able to watch it suckle and interact with Kigali via cameras which were installed especially for the birth. The cameras have also enabled us to capture footage of the entire birth. This footage is very valuable and quite rare, at least among captive Spotted Hyenas in Australia, as Monarto Zoo houses the only female Spotted Hyenas in the country. Thankfully the novelty of destroying the cameras wore off after of our third set as the hyenas initially decided they preferred not to be watched!
Spotted Hyena cubs will suckle for 12-18 months, the longest of any carnivore. The lifespan of Spotted Hyenas is up to 35 years in captivity and there are only nine in Australia, all originating from Monarto Zoo. Kigali is originally from Kruger National Park in South Africa.
Carnivore keeper, Monarto Zoo