Serena Hyena Research Camp started in 2008. When this camp was first established, our researchers scoured the immediate area for hyena clans and found Oz Valley Clan, Olare Clan, 17km Clan, Happy Zebra Clan, North Clan, and South Clan. For research ease, our camp decided to study Happy Zebra, North and South who were all in the immediate area of our camp. We knew nothing about these hyenas when we started (ie. their rank, age, genetic relations, etc…). Each member of the clan when we first arrived was given an arbitrary name (see this blog post if you want to learn more about our current naming scheme: ) and we call these hyenas the “originals”. These original hyenas eventually gave birth and we could then track the life history of their cubs and their cub’s cubs. However, there are five hyenas in South who have never had cubs! We have named these ladies the “Golden Girls” after the NBC sitcom.
But why have these adult females never had cubs to term? Are they in menopause or maternal senescence? Are they lacking certain hormones? Are they not desirable for mating? Are they having cubs that are not surviving? We find this interesting because it is very important for a female hyena to have cubs; a female hyena can better maintain her rank with more offspring, and more specifically, more female offspring. As far as we can tell, the Golden Girls’ rank have held strong within the clan since we established their rank. Why is this?
Recently, we have discovered two of the five Golden Girls mating! This begs the question: are all of the Golden Girls sexually active? And if they are, are they having cubs and losing them or not having them at all?
Big Bad Wolf