Flies no laughing matter for hyenas
Perth Zoo handler Leonie Cusack with Kigana the spotted hyena. Picture: Iain Gillespie/The West Australian

In the wild, Kigana would be one of the savanna's most aggressive and powerful creatures.

So when the 13-year-old hyena strolls calmly to his Perth Zoo keeper and sticks out his ears to get fly repellent on them, the sight draws confused looks.

Leonie Cusack has trained the zoo's hyenas to do dog-like tricks, including holding up paws, opening their mouths and keeping still.

In return for treats, the hyenas, which are closer to bears than dogs for intelligence, now obediently submit to teeth checks, examinations and injections.

Ms Cusack said most recently, the hyenas were chewing their own ears after being pestered by flies.

So she trained the pair to press their ears to the mesh fence to get repellent creams - a daily ritual which has baffled visitors and staff.

Though the hyenas are some of the most feared animals at the zoo, Ms Cusack said they were also some of the smartest and misunderstood.

The West Australian

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