Spotted hyena health check at Perth Zoo

Picture: Perth Zoo
Picture: Perth Zoo

HYENAS have been stigmatised since The Lion King portrayed the species as villains 25 years ago, but they are actually intelligent and affectionate mammals.

Kigana is the dominant of the two spotted hyenas at Perth Zoo, but as an older animal he needs regular health checks to ensure his joints and teeth remain strong.

The 18-year-old has started showing signs of slowing down, so on Thursday he was put under general anaesthetic for a full physical examination including blood tests, a dental check, X-rays and an ultrasound.

Health checks ensure Kigana’s joints and teeth remain strong. Picture: Perth Zoo
The 18-year-old was put under general anaesthetic for a full physical. Picture: Perth Zoo

Veterinarian Alisa Wallace told AAP it took about 10 people, including specialists and four people to carry Kigana, to complete the two-and-a-half hour procedure.

But it was a success and Kigana remained healthy for his age, although the blood test results would not be known until Friday, she said.

Sabi has just turned 12.

Zoo keeper Rob Hemsworth told AAP that Kigana, who weighs 54 kilograms and is about 1.5 metres long, keeps fellow hyena Sabi in line.

“He’s really intelligent and has got a great personality,” he said.

“We do training with them and he picks things up really quickly.

“They definitely have a bad reputation out in the world, but when people come and see them it’s amazing that they can see that intelligence and personality come across.”

Hyenas are biologically closer to cats but behaviourally more like dogs, and have one of the strongest recorded bites of any mammal.

“They basically use that for crushing down bone and they’ve got a highly acidic stomach, so they can break down all the bone and hide that other carnivores can’t eat and then that gives them an advantage out in the savannah,” Mr Hemsworth said.