Monday, December 29, 2008

Playing rough

The word "play" conjures all all sorts of warm childhood memories...playing tag, playing dress-up, and playing board games. However, among hyenas, play is a bit more of a contact sport. It helps individuals strengthen social bonds, enforce the dominance heirarchy, and learn combat skills. While play usually starts out innocently enough, it often ends up looking quite painful to one of the participants.

Here's Kneesocks, an adult female, playing a bit too rough with a cub named Bellagio. All morning long, she was having tons of fun picking cubs up by their legs and flipping them over. The cubs seemed less enthralled with this game than Kneesocks did.

Among siblings, there's a very fine line between harmless play and painful rivalry. Here, Conspiracy is sandwiched between his mom, who is trying to give him a bath, and his dominant brother Chaos, who is about to give his ear a nasty bite.

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