We were at the den of our Happy Zebra clan happily watching our hyenas when we noticed a family of elephants browsing about 200 meters away. We at first didn’t pay the elephants any attention but they kept moving closer and closer to the den, at which point I switched to keeping an eye on the elephants while Meg observed the hyenas. The elephants got to within 50 meters of the den when a fight broke out between one of the younger elephant females and the big matriarch with a young calf.
The fight seemed to rile the matriarch up, because once the other female backed down, the matriarch promptly charged at our hyenas, who at that point hd stopped what they were doing and were watching the elephants warily. The visible hyenas scattered in all directions away from the den (and trust me, we scattered with them; there's no way I want to be that close to an angry, trumpeting elephant).
Suddenly, one of our female hyenas, Ojibway, sprang out of the den. She had been completely hidden in the den hole so we hadn't even realized she was there, but Ojibway just happens to have a brand new 6-week old cub inside that den. Ojibway saw the elephants, and instead of running with the others, she planted her feet right by the den and stared the elephants down. There were six elephants total standing less than 10 meters away from her, but she refused to back down. Meg and I were terrified thinking that we were about to watch one of our hyenas get trampled into the ground, but the amazing thing was that the elephants turned away and just left her alone. Way to go Ojibway!
Other nominees for Hyena Mom of the Year are:
Marten is a low-to-mid ranking mom in Serena South, currently raising her first ever cub. Marten is such a good mom that, despite her low rank, little Jean-Luc Picard has now caught up in size to the dominant female's cub, who is also about 2 months older!
She just gets to be in the running for being Hagia Sofia's mom, the single most photogenic cub in the history of Fisi Camp.
Pike is our teenage momma. We didn't expect her to have cubs for at least another 6-8 months, and lo and behold, she went and had two of them. She surprised us even more when she turned out to be a fantastic mom. Boomerang and Katana are about 7 months old and already two-thirds their mom's size! Pike is also fearless in defense of her kids; she actually once attacked Koi, the top female, when Koi was poking at her cubs.
Sauer is such an overprotective mom that she managed to hide her cubs from us for six or seven months! Then suddenly out she comes with her two huge fluffballs, Optimus Prime and Megatron! Way to be sneaky mama-Sau.
Such a patient mom is our AWP. She's happy to just lie there while her little cub Velociraptor uses her for a jungle gym, and gnaws on her ears to boot!
Waffles is second from the bottom in rank in Serena North clan, and a first time mom to boot. Despite that, though, her babies Log Cabin and Hungry Jack always look fat, clean and fluffy. I watched once as several of the higher ranking females banded together to pick on Log Cabin. Good mama Waffles dove underneath the females noses, squealing and giggling up a storm, and shoved Log Cabin out of the way so that he could run for the den! Then, once he'd escaped into the den, Waffles threw her body down on top of the den hole and wouldn't move, despite that fact that the other females were standing over her and beating on her.
So cast your votes hyena-fans! Who should be named Hyena Mom of the Year? You decide!