It really is a laughing hyena! Animal gets giggles on South Africa safari

It really is a laughing hyena! Cat gets giggles on South Africa safariBridgena Barnard/Rex Features

This grinning hyena looks more than pleased to kick off 2013.

Photographer Bridgena Barnard captured the hilarious sight in South Africa's Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park.

She told Rex Features: "The Hyena with his Motley pattern coat entertained us like no other. A clown deluxe!

"Every time the camera clicked he juggled and gave a new pose, moving around and entertaining the photographer with absolute delight. Like a truly talented "Kings Fool", he left this laugh for last - seeming to grin from ear to ear.

"He did not wait for the encore, just disappeared in the grass like a soft breeze."

Hyenas make a variety of vocalisations, including howling screams, wailing calls, and the well-known "laughter" used to alert other clan members up to three miles away of a food source.

The giggling sounds of a hyena contain important information about the animal's status, say scientists.

A study to decipher their so-called "laugh" published in the journal BMC Ecology says the pitch of the giggle reveals a hyena's age, while variations in the frequency of notes convey information about the animal's social rank.

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