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Ruti the celebrity hyena run over and killed near Modiin

The animal, who aroused fiery support and opposition from residents, returned twice after rangers moved her far away; fed from trash after buildings replaced natural habitat

Sue Surkes is The Times of Israel's environment reporter.

An undated photo of Ruti the hyena, who was run over and killed outside of the central city of Modiin on July 16, 2020. (Effie Cohen, a volunteer with the Israel Nature and Parks authority)
An undated photo of Ruti the hyena, who was run over and killed outside of the central city of Modiin on July 16, 2020. (Effie Cohen, a volunteer with the Israel Nature and Parks authority)

Ruti the hyena, who lived on the outskirts of the central Israeli commuter city Modiin and became something of a celebrity, was run over and killed on Saturday afternoon, the Israel Nature and Parks Authority announced Sunday.

Her body was found on Route 443, close to the Ligal industrial zone.

She was still wearing a radio transmitter on her collar.

Ruti was first spotted in 2017, wandering around dumpsters in search of food. The city had expanded into the surrounding natural habitat.

She gathered many local fans, but also enemies, sparking a public fight that prompted the INPA to catch her and move her away from Modiin twice. Each time she found her way back.

By the time the authority decided to move her to the far south of the country, Ruti had become wise and avoided all attempts to catch her.

In order to explain the facts about hyenas and explode negative myths and rumors, the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel ran special Facebook posts in Ruti’s name.

מזמן לא כתבתי לכם, אבל החלטתי שאת הפוסט המפרגן של Jonathan Meyrav אני חייבת לחלוק איתכם. בא לי לייסד תנועה לשיפור התדמית של הצבועים בישראל ???????? מה דעתכם??

Posted by ‎קהילת החברה להגנת הטבע בתל אביב מודיעין והסביבה‎ on Tuesday, August 3, 2021

On Sunday, it ran a death notice, saying that the animal had been a role model for wild animals living in cities.

“To our great regret, the city was stronger than she was,” the notice said.

Posted by ‎קהילת החברה להגנת הטבע בתל אביב מודיעין והסביבה‎ on Sunday, July 17, 2022

The INPA’s central district ecologist Yariv Melichi said, “From our tracking of her, we know that Ruti raised pups at least twice, and possibly more. Apparently, in Israel of 2022, the life expectancy of a hyena, even if it is experienced in an urban space like Ruti, is five to six years. It’s a very sad end.”

In the wild, a striped hyena like Ruti can live for up to 12 years.

In a December 2018 Times of Israel blog, Alon Tal, a Modiin resident, environmental campaigner and, since 2021, Knesset lawmaker, wrote, “Humans chose to move onto lands that had always provided habitat to large mammals. Given Israel’s diminutive dimensions, we have to learn to live together, much as the ancients lived in harmony with a much larger cast of predators that included lions, cheetahs, and bears.”

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