Wednesday, August 11, 2021

Meet the Wapi Dave Crew!

Over the last month, Happy Zebra went from my least favorite clan to my most favorite clan. From meeting the new cubs, to figuring out the hierarchy changes, to determining who has gone missing/immigrated while I was gone, there is always something interesting happening during an obs session in Happy Zebra. Last week, I also finally found the second Happy Zebra communal den. Happy Zebra has traditionally had two different dens at the same time: a relatively busy den with most of the high and mid rankers and a slower den with low rankers. Funnily enough, the hyenas are currently at Lugga Den and Wapi Dave Den, the same two places where they were denning at when Lila and I first started out in 2019. Although Wapi Dave Den currently only has 1 cub, it’s always fun watching the hyenas there interact. Here’s the general crew:

SILK – The Queen of Wapi Dave
Even though SILK is technically lower ranking than MUON, it seems like she is the queen of this den (SILK is the second lowest ranking mother, after SGL). With most of her offspring, from PLTO to BRUM, hanging out at the den with her, she always has a posse of potential allies around. Even RMMY and SKEP, who are also both higher ranking than SILK, have appeased to her over the past week.

PLTO – The One and Only Cub
The true star of this show: PLTO is currently the only cub at the den. Although it is beneficial for SILK to keep PLTO at Wapi Dave Den, where she can easily nurse her without interruption, PLTO is also missing out on crucial socialization right now. Cubs love to play with each other at the den and will often form important alliances/friendships with others in their cohort during their shared time at the communal den.

MERC – SILK’s Subadult Son
MERC is the dominant cub from SILK’s previous litter and loves to stop by the den to play with PLTO. Unfortunately, I have not seen his littermate, DOOM, around yet. Just like PLTO, both MERC and DOOM were raised at Wapi Dave Den.

BRUM – SILK’s Grown-up Daughter
BRUM is also SILK’s offspring, though she is sexually mature and even has a torn phallus, which indicates that she has given birth at least once. BRUM has been scent-marking and groaning a lot while at the den, which could potentially mean that she has little cubs at a natal den somewhere that she wants to bring to Wapi Dave Den soon. Fingers crossed! 

MUON – SILK’s Best Friend
Although I have not seen any cubs that could belong to MUON, she spends a lot of time at Wapi Dave Den with SILK. The last time I was there, MUON was generally within 1-2m of SILK, and even appeased to her cub, PLTO. Could SILK actually have climbed up the social ladder a bit during the pandemic?

JAZZ – The King of Wapi Dave
JAZZ is our highest-ranking immigrant male, and his long time in Happy Zebra clan has given him some special privileges, at least with the Wapi Dave Crew. Unlike other males, who generally spend most of their time 20-30m away from the main action at the den, JAZZ will simply walk up to any of the females and engage with them. He was even grooming BRUM’s leg without issues the other day!

DEGO – The Traditional Male
DEGO is one of the “newer” immigrants in Happy Zebra, though he has been around since 2019/2020. He behaves like most immigrants: keeping his distance from the others, anxiously backing away from anybody who approaches him, and generally appeasing to any and all hyenas he sees. 

Although Wapi Dave Den has fewer hyenas than Lugga Den, it generates a ton of interesting data! First, I love watching JAZZ interact with SILK and co. Whereas most males get chased away if they come too close, JAZZ can confidently walk up to anyone at Wapi Dave without having to worry about being attacked. Even OMHA, another long-term immigrant who spends a lot of time with the Lugga Den Crew, will behave very submissively and cautiously towards the females and cubs. Second, it will be interesting to see how the benefits vs. disadvantages of raising PLTO away from the main communal den will play out in the future – sure, PLTO is able to nurse without interruption at the moment, but she probably hasn’t met the majority of the clan yet, which will likely lead to a lot of stressful interactions once she den graduates. Third, could there have been a dominance switch-up among the low rankers? Like I mentioned before, several hyenas who are technically higher ranking than SILK have behaved submissively towards her. And lastly, just like with any other den, are there more cubs coming soon? MUON and BRUM are both spending a lot of time at Wapi Dave Den, and even RMMY and SKEP have stopped by to scope out the den.

Matriarchy Update
After watching the high rankers interact over the past month and a half, I *think* I finally have some concrete answers! It seems like BOOM’s daughters, SAVY, RUMG, and JLYR, have formed a close alliance to overtake the others. I can confidently say that JLYR is not the matriarch, though I’m still figuring out whether SAVY or RUMG is higher ranking between the two. Although SAVY should be higher ranking based on the old clan list, RUMG does have a strong ally in ARGO, her daughter, who spends most of her time with RUMG. For now, I have all three at the top of the clan list, with no other changes among everyone else (though I may have to move SILK up a couple of ranks soon too). 

Full names: SILK – Silkwood, PLTO – Plutonium-239, MERC – Mercury, BRUM – Candelabrum, MUON – Muon, JAZZ – Jazz, DEGO – San Diego, RMMY – Rummy, SKEP – Skeptic, OMHA – Omaha, BOOM – Boomerang, SAVY – Savvy, RUMG – Why is the Rum Gone?, JLYR – Jolly Roger, ARGO – Argo, SGL – Shangri-La


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