It’s a Weird World

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Hye­nas spark ad­mi­ra­tion, not fear, in Ethiopia

HARAR, Ethiopia — Hye­nas roam the streets of the an­cient walled city of Harar in east­ern Ethiopia ev­ery night, seek­ing scraps of meat to drag to the nearby caves.

But res­i­dents are not afraid. A fam­ily cho­sen by the town to feed the an­i­mals is not daunted by the task de­spite the dan­gers that are as­so­ci­ated with com­ing into close quar­ters with such wild an­i­mals.

Ab­bas Yusuf, known as Hyena Man, learnt to feed the hye­nas from his father, Yusuf Mume Salleh, who fed them for 45 years be­fore pass­ing the job to his son 13 years ago.

“Hye­nas have never at­tacked the peo­ple of Harar af­ter my father started feed­ing them, un­less you harm their ba­bies,” Ab­bas Yusuf told Reuters.

“My father is al­ways thank­ful that I con­tin­ued the good work he started and I will pass it onto my chil­dren when I grow old.”

His work is now an at­trac­tion, draw­ing in tourists who came to see the city’s an­cient mosques nes­tled within its old stone walls.

“I am priv­i­leged by God to be a good friend to those mis­un­der­stood an­i­mals. I have a baby hyena in my house and keep it in my bed­room (and I’m) not wor­ried it will bite me when I sleep,” he said.

Ab­bas has given the hye­nas names ac­cord­ing to their be­hav­ior and ap­pear­ance. Among them are “Dab­bas­soo” or “Hairy”, “Tuqan Dilii” or “Lazy”, and “Qal­laa”, mean­ing “skinny”.

To en­cour­age vis­i­tors to trust the hye­nas, Ab­bas feeds them di­rectly from his mouth. — Reuters

AB­BAS Yusuf (23) known as Hyena Man, feeds a hyena.

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