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(DENVER, Colo., July 22, 2004) One of three new spotted hyenas (Crocuta crocuta) walks through tall grass as the hyenas made their media debut on July 22 at 8:45 a.m. Zookeepers have gradually been introducing the hyenas to their new environment and most visitors have not yet seen them. The spotted hyena is the largest of the four hyena species and can grow up to four feet tall and weigh up to 250 pounds. These hyenas have longer forelegs than hind legs and feature sandy brown spotted coats. These animals came to Denver Zoo as a donation from Berkley University and have been sharing the use of their new exhibit in Predator Ridge with African Wild dogs on a rotational basis. These new predators Thika, (Thee-kah) Kibo (Key-bow) and Mtoto (mah-toh-toh) are five years old. Kibo and Thika are brothers and Mtoto is a female unrelated to the males. As the sole female, Mtoto is the most dominant animal in the pack. Like the other animals in Predator Ridge, spotted hyenas are native to Africa. Hyenas are mostly found south of the Sahara Desert, excluding the southern tip of Africa and the Congo Basin. Spotted hyenas scavenge carcasses or kill prey in packs. These packs can bring down large prey like zebras and can force lions to abandon a kill. A single hyena is capable of chasing and killing prey three times its own weight. The spotted hyena has very powerful jaws that can crunch large bones. (Photo by AHMAD TERRY/ ROCKY MOUNTAIN NEWS)

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