When people think of highly intelligent animals, most think of primates, dolphins, and possibly elephants. Some will add parrots and members of the crow family, but only if they’ve read quite a bit on the subject. Most of us also sort of intuitively get that most predators are smarter than most herbivores, despite exceptions like elephants.
However, even though I have read quite a bit about animal intelligence, I was still surprised by the level of intelligence, especially social intelligence, being shown by spotted hyenas.
I hope this will also provide yet another bit of strong evidence for our moral responsibility toward the other intelligences with whom we share this beautiful and unusual planet. Please see my Moral Considerability post for a further and ongoing discussion of interspecies morality.