|“||Look, I know Janja's clan is greedy and eats more than their share. But most hyenas respect the Circle of Life. We're the clean-up crews. Picking up after the sloppy eaters. We hyenas eat what you lions leave behind.||”|
In the Real World
Spotted hyenas are usually sandy-colored, pale grayish-brown, or ginger, with black or dark brown spots. Their eyes are brown, and the fur on their muzzles is dark. They have blunt muzzles, short tails, and thick necks. Unlike other hyena species, spotted hyenas have round ears.
In The Lion Guard
The hyenas in The Lion Guard share the physical features of spotted hyenas in the real world, but typically have gray fur with a pattern of darker markings on their shoulders and back. They have darker muzzles, ears, and paws and lighter underbellies. Their eyes are usually black, with the exception of Jasiri. Some, like Chungu, have round ears, but others, such as Janja, have pointed ears.
In the Real World
Spotted hyenas live in groups known as clans, which can consist of up to 80 individuals. They are typically female-dominant. While hyenas are one of the most socially tight-knit predators, they also have very rigid and nepotistic hierarchy in which not only size and brute strength, but also ancestry and ally networks have significant influence in a hyena's rank in the clan. These rankings rarely change though once they have been established. This hierarchy is formed minutes after birth, as hyenas are the only carnivores born with their teeth ready and eyes open. If the cubs are of the same sex, they will start fighting each other minutes after birth for dominance. If they are of a different sex, then the male will usually submit to the female sibling without struggling.
Hyenas are exceptionally intelligent when it comes to working together, being the most intelligent members of the Carnivora order, and hunt down most of their food, despite their reputation as scavengers. They are also famous for having the strongest jaws of all carnivores, being easily able to break, eat and digest hard materials like bones, hooves and teeth.
Spotted hyenas are well-known for the "laughing" sound that they produce. In reality, this call is not emitted out of amusement, but as a result of stress or fear. Hyenas have been observed "laughing" when they are being attacked or chased from a kill.
In The Lion Guard
A male named Janja is the leader of his clan, which implies that hyenas can lead their clans regardless of their sex. The majority of hyenas respect the Circle of Life and those who take part in it do so by eating the left-overs from lions and other predators, as Jasiri and Ono explain on separate occasions, and scavenge more then they hunt, unlike real and rogue hyenas like Janja's clan. Despite this, they are feared throughout the Pride Lands and are generally forbidden to live in said region, with the notable exception of Cheezi and Chungu who were brief residents of the Pride Lands before returning back to the Outlands.
The hyenas are first shown lounging in the Outlands while their leader Janja gnaws a bone. He talks to his clan, then is distracted by a butterfly. When he proves incapable of catching it, it lands upon his ear, provoking laughter from his clan.
Janja then notices Bunga and sends two hyenas, Cheezi and Chungu, kidnap Bunga when he enters the Outlands looking for his baobab fruit. After the two teasing Kion, the young cub lets out a roar which leaves them in shock, allowing Bunga time to escape.
Later, when their vulture associate informs them of the new Lion Guard, their leader, Janja, comes up with the plan to take out as many animals as they can in an attempt to halt the new Lion Guard. At sunset, they strike a group of gazelles, but are taken down by the Lion Guard nonetheless. They are frightened away by Kion's roar once again, and run back to the Outlands.
The Lion Guard
Janja's Clan, especially Janja, Cheezi, and Chungu, serve as major antagonists in The Lion Guard and appear frequently throughout the series.
When Kion is lost in the Outlands, he encounters Jasiri, a friendly female hyena. She approaches him and introduces herself along with making a few teasing comments. She then sings "We're the Same (Sisi Ni Sawa)"
in response to Kion's passive-aggressive behavior towards her and his thoughts about hyenas not following the Circle of Life and being nothing like lions. Kion realizes that Jasiri is similar to him, despite her being a hyena and him a lion, and they form a friendship.
Jasiri then leads Kion to Flat Ridge Rock. Just as Kion is exiting the Outlands, Jasiri is confronted by Janja's entire clan. She battles them successfully for a while, but is eventually pinned down by Janja. But before Janja can strike, Kion leaps to the rescue, knocking Janja aside. The battle continues, with Jasiri and Kion working together. But soon they are corned by the enemy hyena clan, and Kion is forced to use the Roar of the Elders to defeat them.
Ono mentions that hyenas are scavengers as the Lion Guard debates allowing them to stay in the Pride Lands.
Jasiri the hyena enters the Pride Lands, which frightens two gazelles. She seeks the help of her friend Kion, explaining that her watering hole has been taken over by lions. Kion agrees to help her, and they set off into the Outlands. Along the way, Jasiri admits she had doubts Kion would help her, though he did the last time they met, as the "bad guys" are lions this time, not hyenas. Kion claims this time to be a misunderstanding. They reach the area where the rest of Jasiri's clan is residing. Jasiri introduces Kion to her sister Madoa. Two hyena cubs, Wema and Tunu, hide from the lion cub. The duo soon heads off to solve the water problem.
Along the way, they are attacked by Nuka and Kovu. Nuka berates Kion for siding with a hyena, but Kion is able to convince them to take him to their mother. They reach the water hole, where Zira welcomes them and introduces them to Vitani, who finds the sight of a lion and hyena to be curious. Zira avoids Kion's questions and has him use his Roar of the Elders to make it briefly rain before taking him away for a talk. Jasiri waits, clashing with Nuka until Zira arrives and informs her that Kion feels the watering hole belongs to lions only. Jasiri leaves, but happens upon the Lion Guard on her way back. They return and battle the Outsider lions, defeating them successfully. Soon the clan is peacefully relaxing at the watering hole. Jasiri and Madoa are amused to find that Wema and Tunu are still intimidated by Kion.