Perfume-Loving Ocelots

Zoo scientists have been using the reactions of their captive study subjects to help come up with ways to manage the estimated 100 wild ocelots that remain in the United States along the U.S.-Mexico border

08-01-1999 // NWF Staff

The perfume industry may have a new, decidedly downscale market. It seems that ocelots at the Dallas Zoo prefer Calvin Klein´s Obsession to the fragrances emanating from such favorite sources as snake anal-gland excretions and rat urine. Zoo scientists have been using the reactions of their captive study subjects to help come up with ways to manage the estimated 100 wild ocelots that remain in the United States along the U.S.-Mexico border. The idea is that scents might help draw the endangered cats to census stations or entice them to move along so-called "wildlife corridors" of ocelot-friendly habitat. "Sort of on a lark, one of our research assistants produced a bottle of Obsession," says Research Curator Cynthia Bennett. The idea was not completely new: Gorillas in the zoo have been known to rub perfume-sample cards from magazines all over themselves. The cats immediately rubbed their cheeks and backs in the perfume. "It is very attractive to them, and they spend a great deal of time on it," says Bennett. "It´s a little embarrassing to watch, actually. It does make you wonder what´s in the perfume."

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