Experts say that letting lions, tigers, and leopards smell new scents keeps them mentally and physically active.

By Kelly Vaughan
January 30, 2020

Before discarding your old perfume bottle, consider donating it. No, not to a local thrift store, but to a zoo instead. Banham Zoo in Norfolk, England, discovered that certain animals, including lions, tigers, and leopards, are attracted to unique perfume scents. "They respond very positively to unique scents when sprayed in their enclosures," animal manager Mike Woolham told BBC News. The zoo has requested that visitors donate bottles of perfume to please the animals, as they are currently running low on stock.

Credit: David Morgan/Getty Images

So, do the cats prefer a manly, woodsy scent or perhaps a lighter, floral fragrance? "For some reason, Calvin Klein perfume is a huge hit with all big cats," said Woolham. However, Woolham says the zoo will accept any perfume as they "like to offer them a variety of different scents," which helps to keep the cats mentally and physically active while enriching their environment.

Dudley Zoo in the United Kingdom also requested unwanted perfume to help boost "happy hormones" in their own cats. The act of sniffing the perfume "encourages happy hormones, so you'll see them playing a lot, rolling over, head-rubbing—they get very excited by it," Dudley Zoo's assistant curator Jay Harwood told BBC News.

This isn't the first time that humans have found that big cats are attracted to certain perfumes. In 2018, wildlife officials used bottles of "Obsession for Men" by Calvin Klein to try and lure in a tiger believed to have killed people in Maharashtra, India. Experts think that specific fragrance contains a pheromone called civetone, which is derived from the scent glands of a cat-like mammal known as the civet. Jaguars also proved to respond well to the scent during an experiment at New York's Bronx Zoo.


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