For the past few weeks, a trio of Brown Hyaenas have been settling in at the Park, after their pre-export quarantine and flight from South Africa into London Heathrow.
This is the culmination of a project which has taken almost a year to organise, after we were lucky enough to be offered a breeding pair and their two year old daughter by a zoo in South Africa.
The Brown Hyaena is the rarest, most mysterious and little known of the 3 species of Hyaenas, and is not kept by any other British Zoo. Only a handful of animals, many now geriatric, are to be found outside Africa, spread thinly across Germany, Czech Republic, Russia and the Americas. Our breeding pair are still young and we hope that we will be able to help establish a captive population. A young male, completely unrelated to our family has already been sourced as mate for our daughter, and will be arriving later in the autumn from South Africa, once his paperwork is complete.
Our young female is approaching the age where she would be driven away from the group by the adults, so it has been decided to keep her separated from her parents after the enforced separation on the journey, so the family have access to several off-show dens and runs as well as the barn in our old tiger complex. In a few weeks, once they have settled in further, it is planned that the pair will have the use of the paddock now occupied by our Dingoes, which will be adapted for the Hyaenas after the Dingoes move to their new accommodation.
When the young male Hyaena arrives from Africa our second pair will be formed in two new enclosure currently being constructed north of the Syrian Bear paddock.
We hope that over the next few weeks, the barriers blocking off access to the path by the old tiger barn can be moved back in stages as the Hyaenas become used to visitors, now that the busy summer holidays are over. As this is done, the animals(s) should become more visible; but we have to be flexible as animal behaviour cannot always be predicted!
Exciting times - and probably one of the most important arrivals in any UK zoo for many years..?