A baby hyena has passed away at the Hattiesburg Zoo after an altercation with one of its siblings.
The second of 13 cubs born in October is reported to have died due to aggressive behavior displayed by the eldest of the pack.
Unlike most newborn animals, hyenas are born with their eyes open and a full set of teeth. Hyena cubs compete for dominance from birth and have a hierarchy that is established early in life.
Moments after the birth of the second cub, animal care staff noted that the first cub was showing signs of aggression toward its sibling.
“We have to walk a fine line with care for hyenas as we can only separate the cubs from their mother and sibling for short periods,” Animal Curator Kristen Moore said. “Hand-raising cubs is not an option because hyenas learn appropriate behaviors from other hyenas.”
As the cubs continued to grow, gain weight, and meet expected milestones, the animal care team at the Hattiesburg Zoo closely monitored the pair and cataloged wounds on the second-born cub, which was the smaller of the pair.
The team separated that cub from Pili and its sibling long enough to check the wounds and treat them to prevent infection. Long-term separation is not an option for hyenas as they cannot successfully be reintroduced to their clan.
On Wednesday evening, fighting between the pair intensified and the second-born cub attained extensive wounds from which it did not recover.
The zoo’s veterinarian and animal curator have been in contact with personnel from the Species Survival Program (SSP) throughout the birthing process and the first month of their growth and have informed them of the cub’s death.