HATTIESBURG, Miss. (WHLT) – The Hattiesburg Zoo welcomed the only surviving hyena born in North America in 2022. The baby, born October 17, was a single birth.

“We are thrilled with the birth of this cub,” said Kristen Moore, animal curator for the Hattiesburg Zoo. “We feel good that Pili is doing well and is being a great mom to her first-born cub.” “Pili is nursing her baby who is suckling well, but we have hurdles yet to cross so we are cautiously optimistic at this point.”

Courtesy: Hattiesburg Zoo

The day after her birth, the animal care team was able to weigh the cub, and at that time weighed 1.45 kg. On Wednesday, the cub weighs 2.05 kg, indicating that it is gaining weight at an appropriate rate.

The baby reached another milestone on Tuesday when it met dad, Niru, through the meshing of the hyena’s indoor enclosure.

The zoo’s animal care team has made the decision to close the walkway in front of the hyena habitat, which will prohibit guest viewing the pair at this time.

“We ask our guests to be patient while our animal care team closely monitors the cub and mother in these important early stages as they acclimate to their habitat and spend time together,” said Rick Taylor, Executive Director of the Hattiesburg Convention Commission, which manages the Hattiesburg Zoo.

Niru came to the Hattiesburg Zoo in May of 2021, and Pili arrived in October of 2021 with the goal of breeding the pair.

“This is an incredibly important birth for the Spotted Hyena’s Species Survival Program,” said Jeremy Cumpton, Director of Conservation, Education and Wildlife at the Hattiesburg Zoo. “This program ensures genetic diversity is maintained in populations and can only be maintained if proper breeding and rearing takes place.”