October 15, 2013
Jaguars, Other Large Felines Have An ‘Obsession’ For Popular Cologne
redOrbit Staff & Wire Reports - Your Universe Online
While the jury’s still out on which cologne is most appealing to women, researchers from the Bronx Zoo in New York have discovered that Calvin Klein’s “Obsession for Men” is the most effective fragrance on the market at appealing to large feline species such as cheetahs, jaguars and the panthers.
Experts from the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) facility began conducting the scent-based experiments starting in 2010, and according to Victoria Woollaston of the Daily Mail, they tested a variety of different fragrances in order to determine how a pair of cheetahs would react the them.
Pat Thomas, General Curator of the Bronx Zoo, told National Geographic Daily News that some of the colognes and perfumes he and his colleagues tested would encourage “really powerful cheek rubbing behavior” in the cats, causing them to “literally wrap their paws around a tree and just vigorously rub up and down.”
“Sometimes they would start drooling, their eyes would half close, it was almost like they were going into a trance,” he added. “And they would spend minutes rubbing up and down an object that we would sprayed [sic] with certain perfumes or colognes. We knew that cats would respond to various perfumes and colognes because it’s sort of ‘in zoo lore.’ We’ve know about that for years.”
Smell is an essential sense for all types of big cats, and the creatures often engage in cheek rubbing behavior to deposit or pick up scents from other felines, Thomas said. Furthermore, there is a “territorial component” to the activity, in that cheek-rubbing allows them to mark territories or perhaps even pick up reproductive signals from members of the opposite sex.
According to National Geographic, researchers from the WCS conducted trials, first with tigers and then later on with cheetahs. The researchers explained that both synthetic and natural scents are frequently used by the zoos as “olfactory enrichment” tools, and those odors are sprayed inside the felines’ enclosures in order to help keep them in peak condition, both physically and mentally.
The research by Thomas helped WCS field researchers know that they could use “Obsession” to help them in their efforts to obtain more precise estimates of jaguar populations in the wild, the group explained in a statement. The scent appeals to both male and female animals, but only the male version of the Calvin Klein fragrance has been found to be effective. It draws the big cats towards camera traps, allowing photographs of them to be captured as they stop to smell the designer cologne, helping conservationists better track more timid types of wildlife.
Woollaston reported that conservationist and author Roan Balas McNab has been using the scent for the past six years in order to help keep track of the jaguar populations in the jungles of Guatemala. McNab works in a protected tropical rainforest, and uses “Obsession” to keep the creatures occupied long enough to take pictures of them with motion-sensitive cameras. However, he said that the technique only works if animals pass close enough to the camera’s range for the devices to capture acceptable images of them.
“The knowledge about wild animals' interest in scent has also been used in setting up ‘hair traps’ where scientists can collect hair follicles from some species of wild cats for DNA research,” National Geographic reporters said. “When the animals rub tree bark, for example, they leave behind hair, which scientists can use to extract DNA from the hair follicles to identify diversity in the animal’s population.”
“Loss of habitat due to human agriculture and development and illegal killings has caused several wild cat species to become endangered,” they added. “Thomas is mindful that some people could misuse this knowledge about scents, but he pointed out that ‘Obsession for Men’ was NOT the best performing fragrance in the field, and declined to reveal which perfumes or colognes were the best lures for all cats in the wild.”