As human-wildlife interactions become more common in an increasingly urbanized world, widespread encroachment on habitat can exacerbate conflicts between indigenous fauna and the populations of cities and towns. Conservation strategies seeking to create empathy and harmony between humans and their natural world upon occasion utilize charismatic species to engage the public. Understanding the nature of charisma in nonhuman animals is therefore important for urban bio-diversity preservation programs. By personalizing wildlife, people are able to develop affection and a commitment to the supporting ecosystems and natural assets. This case describes the life and death of a striped hyena that captured the imagination of the city of Modi'in in Israel for 5 years. Notwithstanding legal efforts by a small minority of local citizens to evict the hyena from the town’s municipal boundaries, the overwhelming affection and support for the animal, especially among young people, not only defused the hyena’s detractors but ultimately contributed to the creation of a major national park adjacent to the city. The surprisingly compelling, bottom-up crusade supporting a hyena’s right to remain in her habitat, even after it has become settled by humans, suggests that the personalized framing of fauna and extensive deployment of social media on behalf of an individual animal can contribute to effective conservation efforts. While anthropomorphizing wildlife is often discouraged by zoologists and rangers, the tactical justification emerges as one of many lessons from the experience. The individualizing of species that “gives them a face” can help communities overcome negative perceptions and fears about large, intimidating predator species.

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