When a human being is described as a ‘hyena’, we can be sure it is due to behaviour that is more offensive and egregious than anything found in the animal world, where competition is, for the most part, an honest and straightforward battle for survival. Since they are so rarely seen in real life, at least in the West, hyenas can be used in this way because they are a blank screen, suited to the projection of our own anxieties and concerns. […] Perhaps this is one reason why hyenas are not popular in zoos. Confronted with a shy, gentle creature when they are expecting a stupid, snickering scavenger, human visitors might well get the feeling they have been cheated.
– Mikita Brottman, Hyena (2012)