Anne Hilborn is used to driving around the majestic Serengeti National Park in Tanzania and observing the behavior of some of Africa's most beautiful big cats: cheetahs. However, this story is about the time she happened across two hyenas. Having sex. So obviously she documented the entire affair for the benefit of Twitter.
At first, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to document an intimate hyena encounter. This was the first time Hilborn had ever seen mating hyenas, so she knew she was in for a rare sighting. You can see in her photographs that the male is mounting a female hyena. His attempt is woefully and pathetically unsuccessful. However, there might be a reason for the male hyena's difficulty in mounting the female.
The female hyena has an even longer penis than the male hyena. Or, a pseudopenis to be exact. The pseudopenis is an enlarged and fully erectile clitoris. While it might look great for waving around and greeting other hyenas, it can become a bit of a nightmare when it comes to sex. The male needs to insert his penis inside the pseudopenis. This is even more difficult than it sounds, and often takes lots of practice for the male.
However, if a hyena isn't well practiced, then the results can be a little more disheartening. Unfortunately for this male hyena, Hilborn caught the whole sorry attempt on camera.
The male hyena is looking fairly chuffed with his performance, so he turns his head so Hilborn can photograph his "best side." However, the female doesn't seem to be sharing the thrill... I wonder why that could be?
The reason becomes apparent when you realize that the male hyena is completely clueless about exactly where he's meant to be aiming the relevant organ. The signs are all there – her dejected expression and his unwavering determination.
The passionate encounter turned into a pantomime after that. Our male hyena, as though attempting to cover up his lack of know-how, appears to be trying his efforts closer to the ground. There is a dangerous look in the female's eye. One that doesn't inspire hope for the male hyena's chances.
Any lesser male would have trotted away at this point. But hats off to this hyena, his confidence (or maybe obliviousness) is something to aspire to. You know what they say, if life knocks you down six times, get back up seven.
You go, courageous hyena! He now tries to win her affections with some sensual back-licking.
And hey! It looks like his efforts are paying off! He now ups his game to back-nibbling.
It becomes painfully obvious that this hyena's instincts need a bit of calibrating. The willingness, the effort and the motion are there, but the aim is still not quite on the bullseye.
"Not to worry! A change in position ought to do the trick!" you can almost hear his enthusiastic little brain think. However, a shift further away from the clitoris is probably not the secret to sexual accomplishment.
You can now see a cold wave of reality wash over the male hyena as he sits in defeat. Tonight is not the night that two become one. Not even close.
The couple decide to call it a night. The male walks away... maybe for a cold bath in the local water hole. Don't worry, we all have our off days. Your courage is an example to many who would have given up long before you did. Besides, there's still next time to try and navigate the female's pseudopenis.