Name the Hyrax!
This is Zooniversity’s newest animal ambassador, a yellow-spotted hyrax (Heterohyrax brucei) who needs the perfect name — and we’re asking our Zooniversity friends to name him! Something, cute, yet dignified, that suits his species and his personality. Here’s a bit more about him to give you some creative inspiration…
This 8-pound, football-shaped, herbivore was sent to us by another wildlife educator who just didn’t have the time to work with him. He is usually found in the savannahs and jungles of central African and is considered by scientists to be the nearest living relative to the elephant (yep, elephant — they share similarities in teeth, leg and foot bones, testes, and other obscure details). They are amazing climbers, using the sweat on their soft, rubbery, footpads to suction themselves to the rocks. They normally live in large colonies of females with only one male (so this guy may be a bit lonely). They spend their days basking in the sun, nibbling on plants. They are extremely cautious — they’ll take a bite of grass, freeze, look carefully around for predators, and if all clear, will relax and chow down. They do not have front teeth — they have 4 front tusks that have squared-off ends and they won’t hesitate to use their powerful bite as protection (okay, I already learned this the hard way, ouch.) They are extremely tidy critters, using a common "potty spot," even in the wild. Their communal outhouse is infamous — it hardens over centuries and becomes fossilized into what is called "African Stone" or "Hyraceum," which is used in perfumery as a substitute for other musky notes like deer or civet — "Hmmm, what IS that mysterious scent you’re wearing?"
This special guy is still adjusting to people and has been in veterinary care for the last three months to fix some existing health issues. He is gaining trust with each day and will now let us hand-feed and gently pet him. He has a demanding personality and will run you over for his favorite slice of banana. He grunts, squeaks, and hisses, depending on what he’s trying to tell you. He should be ready to meet our fans starting this summer, but first he needs a name befitting this assertive rock climber.
So, get those creative juices flowing and send us some name suggestions. Simply leave a comment here on the blog or post on our Facebook page. If you suggest the perfect name, we’ll brag about you in our next post — and, if you’re brave, we’ll let you hold his banana!