'Bubbles' the Hyena Taken from Owner

March 19, 2009 | By Zootoo Pet News Staff | Category: Strange But True | 247 comments
Tags: strange but true, other pets

Authorities seized a pet hyena from a South Carolina owner's backyard last week. (ZT Pet News Photo Illustration)

MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. -- One Myrtle Beach resident is saying the seizure of his pet hyena is nothing to laugh over.

"We weren't trying to sell him," Nicolas Petock, 26, said of his exotic pet. "He is a member of the family."

Family or not, Bubbles the striped hyena was taken from his owner's backyard on Friday, March 13. Myrtle Beach police became aware of the 1-year-old animal's presence after an officer saw him in his backyard fenced enclosure on Petock's property.

Although Bubbles was living in an apparently secured area -- and had not reportedly bothered neighbors -- officers seized him, citing a city ordinance that prohibits "wild or feral animals."

Bubbles has been relocated to Alligator Adventure, a public reptilian facility and tourist attraction in North Myrtle Beach, S.C.

Yet Petock says Bubbles belongs at home.

Petock, who owns several other animals, including dogs and cats, says he intensively researched striped hyenas before purchasing one from an exotic breeder in Texas several months ago.

He named the hyena Bubbles because "as a pup, when he got nervous, he made a bubbling noise," Petock told The Sun News.

"It's very detrimental to our relationship with him," Petock said of Bubbles' removal. "Even as young as he is, it's hard for him to trust people."

Petock described Bubbles as "very playful" to WMBF News.

"He loves toys of all sorts," Petock said.

Bubbles did not appear to display any signs of abuse, and is said to have been living in a sizable enclosure, complete with a dog house. He was caged in plain sight of the street, one officer said.

"It's a little surprising that somebody would bring something into the city like this," Steven Trott, of the Myrtyle Beach Animal Control, reportedly said.

One neighbor, Steve Martin, who lives across the street from Petock, was apparently just as surprised as the officer was. Yet Martin said he was undisturbed by the hyena' presence.

"As long as it doesn't get out, it doesn't bother me," Martin said. "I haven't heard anything [and it] hasn't bothered anybody."

The city of Myrtle Beach says differently -- Petock's preliminary court hearing is scheduled for April 7.

Ken Alfieri, a curator at Alligator Adventure, told The Sun News that he wasn't against the basic premise of "ownership" of a hyena, but said it is "better just to be outside of city limits where you have a lot of space."

"The rule with exotic animals is to have two fences, doubled-fenced and closed-fence, as you are better able to control access to your animal."

The striped hyena, which is native to West Africa, is not like "some of the animals that we see on Discovery Channel."

Alfieri said striped hyenas are "reasonably nice animals."

"They do bond with people, and they do well in captivity. They are both loyal and bonded to their owners," Alfieri continued.

While spotted and brown hyenas tend to be larger and travel in packs in the wild, the smaller striped hyenas are loners, according to Alfieri, and are "typically shy" creatures.

The Associated Press, The State, Sun News and WMBF News contributed to this report.

Comments (194)

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6 years ago

While I would not want a hyena as a pet, I believe those who know how to take care of them should be able to keep them. Laws against exotic pet ownership often results from fear and, unfortunately, irresponsible owners. Most of the exotic pet community are responsible owners and strongly discourage anyone from getting an exotic pet if they can't meet all its needs.

It's also selfish for people to not want other people to keep certain species because of irrational fear and lack of understanding. There are attacks by domestic animals too. Does it mean we should ban ownership of these animals too?

Good Point | Reply ›


6 years ago

Why do people insist on having WILD animals as pets?? It is dangerous for them and others. How selfish.

Good Point | Reply ›

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