Last month we said goodbye with sorrow to our hyena and one of our two crocodiles, both of which had died of old age.
Our hyena, which had loved eating watermelons more than anything else, arrived at the Garden as an adult about 15 years ago from Hai Bar Yotvata. It was probably born in Haifa Zoo, more than 18 years ago, as one of three cubs. It arrived at the Zoological Garden as a potential mate for Nela, a female hyena that lived here, but the pairing was unsuccessful. When they first met (after a period of acquaintance from a distance), they attacked one another so fiercely that Dr. Ron Elazari-Volcani had to operate on the male in order to rehabilitate its face, jaw and teeth. From the day of surgery and until the day it died, the hyena hated Ron's guts.... it had probably forgotten why it hated Ron, but still held grudge against him. 

In spite of the failed trial, the hyena's keepers didn't give up. Since the striped hyena is a solitary animal and the female heat period is very short, the keepers wanted to identify the exact time of the heat in order to bring the two together at that time. A mesh barrier was built between the cages and the keepers and students who worked in the Garden were asked to pay attention to the pair and report any interaction between the two. One day, one of the students working in the Garden came running to Ron, and reported that the female had urinated near the barrier and that the male was sniffing the urine with interest. The entire Garden staff quickly organized: after the keepers had been equipped with water hoses, a tranquilizer rifle, brooms, and photographic equipment, the doors of both cages, which open to the big yard, were opened. The two hyenas left their cages for the yard, sniffed one another, and then began fighting again…After they were separated we finally understood that the pair had no future together. The female, which was older than the male, was transferred to the Abu-Kabir Zoological Garden and the male stayed with us.

And what can we say about our Nile crocodile, which was at least 40 years old when it died? Between 1973 and 1976 several crocodiles and crocodile eggs arrived at the Abu-Kabir Zoological Garden. Prof. Mendelssohn successfully incubated the eggs and young crocodiles were added to the Garden. One of the crocodiles, we are not sure if it was one of the young ones or one of the adults, arrived at our Zoological Garden, and for many years was one of our big attractions for visitors. Hair-raising stories are still being told today about the first years of the crocodiles in Abu-Kabir: One of the crocodiles succeeded to escape and managed to get as far as the water pool in the nearby Botanical Garden, where he surprisingly snapped at one of the professors who was busy taking water samples from the pool. Another crocodile was revealed as the cause of the sewer blockage. When one of the zoo keepers inserted his hand into the sewer to open the blockage, he pulled it back with a young crocodile attached to it, gripping his hand with its teeth!

Our hyena enjoying  his bath, Photo: Ron Elazari-Volcani

Our hyena enjoying  his bath, Photo: Ron Elazari-Volcani

Nile crocodile, photo: Oz Rittner

One of our Nile crocodiles, photo: Oz Rittner