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Zoo: Hyena, Used as Model in ‘The Lion King,’ Passes

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Photo of Brownie released by the Sacramento Zoo.


Brownie – the oldest-known hyena in a U.S. zoo – has died at the age of 28, the Sacramento Zoo announced Tuesday.

The spotted hyena had been housed at the zoo since 1995. She was originally born in Kenya and was brought to the U.S. thanks to a UC Berkeley research program.

A female companion of Brownie passed in 2006.

The zoo notes that in her time at UC Berkeley, Disney animators studied Brownie and her sisters for the “The Lion King.”

Zoo staff says that Brownie didn’t show any unusual signs Monday afternoon, although she was being treated for age-related illnesses. Brownie ate her dinner as usual and went to bed. She looks to have passed away in her sleep.

Spotted hyenas are said to be able to live 10 to 12 years in the wild and 20 to 25 years in captivity.

Brownie’s death is the zoo’s second in less than a week, as Josie — a 48-year-old chimpanzee — was euthanized last Thursday.

Josie was also being treated for age-related illnesses. When her condition took a turn for the worse last weekend, zoo officials concluded that Josie should be euthanized to stop her suffering.

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