Monarto Zoo is celebrating the public debut of a Spotted Hyena cub following the first ever hyena caesarean in Australia.
The amazing procedure was performed on first-time mum, Forest, as she struggled to deliver her cub naturally, with zookeepers and veterinarians knowing they had to step in after her labour lasted nearly three days.
Given their unique anatomy, hyena births are particularly complex with first-time mums only having a 20% chance of a successful outcome; Zoos SA Veterinarian Dr Jerome Kalvas said that with this in mind, and no progress being made, it was clearly time to intervene.
“Whilst the anaesthetic and surgery went smoothly the cub was initially not breathing after delivery. We administered a respiratory stimulant and our veterinary nurses vigorously rubbed the cub until a small squeal and a strengthening heartbeat told us we were out of the woods.”
“Then when the cub gave one of the vet nurses a little nip — Spotted Hyena cubs are born with a full set of teeth and open their eyes shortly after birth — we knew things were looking good.”
Forest and her mum, Kigali, are the only female Spotted Hyena in Australia and this birth means there are now two cubs in the Monarto clan. Kigali’s most recent cub, Pinduli, was born on exhibit last June.
This footage (credit RZSSA) shows Monarto Zoo’s Spotted Hyena, Kigali, giving birth in the den:
Senior Carnivore Zookeeper, Claire Geister, said hyena have a strict female led hierarchical structure within their clans. At Monarto Zoo Kigali is the dominant female so having her daughter Forest, the subordinate female, breed is a good sign for the group.
“While you often see subordinate females reproducing in the wild it’s quite rare in captivity, the birth of Forest’s cub is a sign of a well adjusted and happy brood,” Claire said. “Although she experienced a tumultuous birth Forest is proving to be a great mum, there’s always a risk that the cub could be rejected when we have to intervene so to see the pair bonding is an amazing achievement. Seeing Forest’s cub accepted by the clan is the best result any of us could have hoped for and just incredible when you consider everything it’s been through.”
For the first three weeks of its life Forest’s cub was housed in a separate den area where mum would join it over night and zookeepers monitored the pair via security cameras. Introductions between the cub and clan went so well it is now a full time member of the group. Visitors may get the chance to spot Monarto’s newest addition on a Zu-loop Shuttle.
(Source: Monarto Zoo media release, 28.03.2013)