It looks like we can add hyenas to the list of animals that can count. In fact, hyenas can count nearly as well as primates, a sure sign that these carnivorous predators are unusually intelligent. This is caused by their sophisticated, hierarchical societies in the wild.
Hyenas are among the few animal species to have unusually-complex social groupings, to the point where scientists consider them "societies" instead of packs.
Let's face it, hyena fans: hyenas usually get a bum rap, being called stupid, or "laughing idiots" from their laugh-like barks and calls (some of the blame on this may lie with Ed from The Lion King).
However, researchers have repeatedly demonstrated the cognitive abilities of hyenas rival those of monkeys. New research from Michigan State University suggests hyena intelligence evolved as a means for the spotted & striped predators to keep track of their social groups.
After sniffing at and circling the tank for fifteen minutes, Shooter leaned into the tank, picked up the marmot in his mouth, and set it on the ground, before nudging it with his hoof. After catching its breath, the the rescued marmot scampered away.
Shooter's actions were observed by surprised zoo staff. Whilst not sure if Shooter sensed the marmot was in distress - or just didn't like it in his tank - the staff speculate that, with the elk's basic needs being met, he was at leisure to exercise thought processes more complex than those needed for just basic survival.