Hattiesburg Zoo celebrates rare hyena cub birth

Exciting news for the Hub City as the Hattiesburg Zoo celebrates a historic birth.
Published: Oct. 27, 2022 at 7:08 PM CDT
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HATTIESBURG, Miss. (WDAM) - Exciting news for the Hub City as the Hattiesburg Zoo celebrates a historic birth.

Last week, the zoo welcomed the only surviving hyena cub born in North America this year.

Kristen Moore, an animal curator at the zoo, said hyena births are challenging in both the wild and zoo environments.

“Hyena births are few and far between in the United States,” said Moore. “This one is particularly exciting because it’s a new genetic line that will go into the population of hyenas, so it’s super, super exciting.”

Moore said a hyena mother’s anatomy is one of the biggest reasons for the high death rate.

“About 60% of them end in death, so that is why it is tricky to keep mom and baby alive,” said Moore. “The birth canal is only about an inch wide, so it’s complicated. A lot of times, moms will die during childbirth, or babies will die soon after.”

Rick Taylor, executive director of the Hattiesburg Convention Commission, said this hyena birth shows the zoo staff’s work ethic and care for its animals.

“I hope that helps people understand we can do anything,” said Taylor. “We have to apply ourselves. We have to educate ourselves, and we have to commit ourselves to do things well. I think we do that here at the Hattiesburg Zoo. I think that our staff does that every day, and I think this is an example.”

Moore said to keep Pili, the mother, and the cub relaxed, the zoo has decided to close off the sidewalk in front of the exhibit. She said keeping them in a stress-free environment is a top priority for the zoo.

“We have a lot of hurdles to jump through,” said Moore. “We have gotten through about the first week and a half now, which is a good sign. Dad has met the baby through the meshing, and all of that has gone so well so far, but we still have to have them be introduced face to face. And that will come in a couple of weeks, and that’s our final big hurdle to make sure everything is okay. So right now, we are just keeping everything nice and quiet to get them settled in.”

According to Moore, the exhibit sidewalk will be closed for the next two weeks.

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