Maruyama Zoo in Sapporo, Hokkaido was the scene of awkwardness on 26 September when it was learned that two spotted hyenas slated for making babies were actually both males. At first this might seem like a major oversight of really basic biology, but in the unique case of the spotted hyena it’s actually fairly understandable.

Kamutori & Kami

The two hyenas in question, Kamutori and Kami, were born in Daejeon Zoo in South Korea in 2008 and 2009 respectively. In 2010 they were gifted to Maruyama Zoo to celebrate the sister city relationship between Sapporo and Daejeon.

Upon arrival, Kamutori was labeled as a male and Kami a female, which held promises of baby hyenas on the way. In the ensuing years things looked promising, as the two young animals could be seen frolicking and cuddling together. It looked like a match made in heaven.

▼ Kamutori and Kami during the good times in 2011

Then around the end of 2012 relations between Kamutori and Kami soured. The two began fighting each other and grew increasingly hostile. This behavior continued until recently when the fighting got so bad that the “couple” needed to be put in separate cages.

▼ An ANN report of the fallout between Kamutori and Kami showing their new living arrangement in 2014

During an investigation, a gender test was conducted on the spotted hyenas in which it was discovered that both Kamutori and Kami were males. Did both Daejeon Zoo and Maruyama Zoo royally screw up by overlooking this seemingly obvious fact?

Lady looks like a dude

A truly unique characteristic of the spotted hyena is that females have a “pseudo-penis.” This means that their clitoris is nearly the same size of a male hyena’s penis and can even become erect in the same way. In addition the female spotted hyena’s labia are closed and take the form of a scrotum. I would make a diagram but I promised my wife I would quit drawing penises after getting married.

As a result, mating involved the male having to enter the female through her pseudo-penis to access the actual vagina. This is extremely troublesome for the males attempting intercourse, the females giving birth, and for zoologists trying to identify the animals’ genders. For example, we occasionally get zoos spending years trying to get two guys to make babies.

It’s just like my fifth grade shop teacher always said: Never judge a spotted hyena by its penis…

Last I heard, he’s eligible for parole in 2019.

Source: Maruyama Zoo, Sapporo Miyanomori Kara, Toychan Net (Japanese)
Videos: YouTube – Mmovies21, ANNnewsCH