Page last updated at 20:42 GMT, Thursday, 9 April 2009 21:42 UK

Rare hyenas arrive at animal park

Hyena at Port Lympne Wild Animal Park - pic Dave Rolfe
In the wild, the brown hyena lives in small clans

A pair of rare hyenas from a breed not kept in the UK for 15 years has arrived at a wild animal park in Kent.

The brown hyenas were taken to Port Lympne Wild Animal Park from Prague.

There are only an estimated 10,000 brown hyenas left in the wild, mainly living in the Kalahari and Namib deserts of southern Africa.

Keepers, who hope the pair will breed, said the animals were settling in at the park and had shown "interesting characteristics".

There are less than 50 brown hyenas registered in captivity in Europe and about 100 worldwide.

Richard Barnes, head of the carnivore section at the park, said: "We are the only zoo in the UK to have brown hyenas and consider ourselves very lucky to be able to give such rare animals a home."

The brown hyena is the largest land animal to derive most of its diet from scavenging, unlike its larger cousin the spotted hyena, although it is known to supplement its diet with fruit and vegetables.

In the wild, the brown hyena lives in small clans although males are often solitary nomads.



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