There isn’t a single day in our calendar capable of conjuring up such opposite ends of our delicate human emotional spectrums than Valentine’s Day.
However reality is often extremely harsh and at some point in our lives we’ve most likely all been there.
Traipsing through darkened empty streets dragging our desperate heels past seemingly never-ending posh candle-lit restaurants; their steamy windows braggingly glowing with softly-lit smug couples, proving that romance definitely isn’t dead – well for one night anyway.
But there’s one extraordinary animal out there that really does have a good enough reason to wallow in his single self-pity today…
Thousands of miles away on the hot arid plains of the Serengeti the male Spotted Hyena (pictured) will have to endure yet another annual sprinkling of salt onto his giant year-round wound.
For in this day-and-age it’s simply not enough to have already been crowned ‘Most Dominant Scavenger of the Old World’, own a stomach that contains enough acid to easily dissolve any bone dipped in it, or even fashionably sport a Mohican that took 26 million years of evolution to successfully style into a cool and rebellious ‘reverse-forwards’ look.
Because what really gets our male Spotted Hyena down in the dumps is the fact that his female counterpart – Mrs Spotted Hyena to you and me – has bigger ‘naughty bits’ than he does – so much so that until fairly recently females were actually thought to be males or hermaphrodites.
Female hyenas must even give birth and urinate through this unique protruding genital which needs to stretch to accommodate the male during their more intimate moments together.
Its anatomical position also gives females complete control over which males are allowed to mate her which – coupled with the fact that the females are significantly larger than the males – makes them the totally dominant sex within their highly intellectual and noisy social packs.
What’s more – and to make matters even worse for Mr Hyena – females also possess pair of fake testicles which are filled with fatty tissue!
So imagine the surprise of the first 19th Century explorers of Africa when they witnessed their caged ‘male’ hyenas actually giving birth in front of their rather confused eyes.
So tonight, if it all seems to be getting a bit too much to take, please spare a thought for our lonely male Spotted Hyena, who’s home alone chomping on his zebra-flavoured meal-for-one and packet of warthog crisps; it’s a wonder he’s still got anything to laugh about.