Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Big cats' Obsession

Zoos have long spritzed perfumes and colognes on rocks, trees and toys in an effort to keep confined animals curious.

In 2003, Pat Thomas, general curator for the Wildlife Conservation Society's Bronx Zoo in New York, decided to get scientific about it. Working with 24 fragrances and two cheetahs, he recorded how long it took the big cats to notice the scent and how much time they spent interacting with it.

The results left barely a whiff of a doubt. Estée Lauder's Beautiful occupied the cheetahs on average for just two seconds. Revlon's Charlie managed 15.5 seconds. Nina Ricci's L'Air du Temps took it up to 10.4 minutes. But the musky Obsession for Men triumphed: 11.1 minutes. That's longer than the cats usually take to savor a meal. ...

Now, Obsession is widely used not only in zoos, but in the field, where it has helped produce breakthroughs in wildlife biology and conservation.

As it happens, big cats of all stripes are obsessive when it comes to the scent. Roan Balas McNab, a Wildlife Conservation Society program director in Guatemala, has been using Obsession for Men since 2007 to help study jaguars in the Maya Biosphere Reserve, a protected tropical forest spanning 8,100 square miles.
--Ellen Byron, WSJ, on a magnetic scent

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