Did you know that Lou, our spotted hyena will be 21 years old this year? He came to us in 1999 from the Buffalo Zoo. There are very few spotted hyenas housed in zoos so we are very lucky to have him with us!
He is such a pleasure to work with and very easily trained because of his exceptional intelligence. He has 12 trained behaviors and is learning more every day:
1. Lou comes when called from anywhere in the exhibit at any time of the day. I wish my cat did that!
2. He allows us to lock him in or out of his holding area any time of the day. Not just because it is his routine, but because we asked!
3. With a point of a finger he will do a lap around his holding area, just for fun.
4. Lou will go on a board to be weighed any time of the day and he doesn’t take the board to play with…anymore.
5. He will allow us to touch his shoulder with a syringe for his annual vaccines.
6. He knows how to target so we can shape behaviors.
7. Now he will spin in a circle, another behavior just for fun!
8. Lou has learned to open his mouth for a dental check. We are now working on making that behavior larger so our vet and visitors can see the strongest jaws of all land mammals better than ever.
9. He will go into his water tub and the pond we dug for him when we ask and sometimes just because, he wants to splash around and have a good time.
10. He has learned to pick up his paw when we ask.
11. He has learned to leave his trainer and go to a corner of his exhibit. This was a difficult behavior to teach him because we worked so hard to train him to come – leaving us, the fun and the food was a challenge.
12. Lou has learned to fetch. He used to destroy all of his toys. Now he gives them to us. He’s amazing!
Best of all, when he is happy and pleased to see us he wiggles his back end, opens his mouth with a wide smile and makes all of US smile! To the right is photo of him fetching a toy – to my knowledge, he is the only hyena in the world who can or ever has fetched his toys.
Thanks, Lou – we love you! Come visit him soon!
– Mary Ellen Ostrander, zoologist