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3 hyena pups arrive at Denver Zoo to start new clan

DENVER — Three baby spotted hyenas arrived at the Denver Zoo this week. The trio came to Denver to start a new clan.

Kelele, a male born June 26 arrived Thursday from the Buffalo Zoo. Two females that don’t have names yet arrived Friday from Kapi’yva Exotics, a private facility in Houston. They were born June 11. All three are still very small and quite cute.

Spotted hyenas are the largest of four species of hyena, with adults growing to almost 3-feet-tall at the shoulder. Their jaws are the most powerful in proportion to their size of any mammal.

They are sometimes called “laughing hyenas” due to the unusual “cackle” which is unique to spotted hyenas.

They are also among the most intelligent mammals in the world according to ongoing research. The experts compare the intelligence of spotted hyenas to that of great apes, one of the closest relatives to humans.

They are mostly found in the grasslands of sub-Saharan Africa. The International Union for Conservation of Nature says their populations in the wild are generally stable. But the group points out their numbers show a bit of decline due to hunting, trapping and poisoning.

The Denver Zoo’s little  cubs have to pass a mandatory quarantine that lasts for a month before visitors to the zoo can see them in person.