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Banham big cats will go wild for your old 'purrrfume'

PUBLISHED: 09:11 29 January 2020 | UPDATED: 16:42 29 January 2020

Calvin Klein Obsession for Men is particular renowned for being popular with tigers. Picture: Banham Zoo

Calvin Klein Obsession for Men is particular renowned for being popular with tigers. Picture: Banham Zoo

Banham Zoo

They are scents designed to appeal to humans but it turns out perfume and aftershave also drives the big cats wild at Banham Zoo.

Keepers use old perfumes and scents as part of the enrichment programme for big cats. Pictures: Banham ZooKeepers use old perfumes and scents as part of the enrichment programme for big cats. Pictures: Banham Zoo

Keepers have appealed for old or unwanted perfumes and hope that visitors to the zoo might also want to drop off any old perfumes or unwanted Christmas aftershave presents when they visit.

The zoo relies on donations from the public of old, unwanted perfumes which they use to spray around the enclosures of tigers and other big cats.

"They love rubbing against it, it's amazing to see them," said Professor David Field, Banham Zoo CEO.

Perfumes are sprayed around the enclosures of big cats and offer a variety of different smells. Pictures: Banham ZooPerfumes are sprayed around the enclosures of big cats and offer a variety of different smells. Pictures: Banham Zoo

For several years now, zoo keeper's all over the world have been aware that scent can play an important part in their enrichment programmes, providing animals with opportunities to express natural behaviours and many species, especially big cats, respond very positively to unique scents when sprayed in their enclosures.

Calvin Klein's Obsession for Men is particular renowned for being popular with tigers.

Apparently the secret lies in an ingredient called civetone, a pheromone that's secreted by small mammals called civets and added in synthetic form in many musky colognes.

Visitors are beign asked to donate any old or unwanted scents. Picture: Banham ZooVisitors are beign asked to donate any old or unwanted scents. Picture: Banham Zoo

Mike Woolham, Banham Animal Manager, said: "Our big cats definitely react positively when scents are used as part of their enrichment programme.

"For some reason Calvin Klein perfume is a huge hit with all big cats but in all honesty any perfumes work well and we do like to offer them a variety of different smells."

The power of perfume over big cats was demonstrated last year when the Zoological Society of East Anglia (ZSEA), which runs both Banham Zoo and Africa Alive! in Suffolk, by splashing Paul Smith aftershave over a large cheque to get Sveta, an 11-year-old Siberian tiger, interested in launching the conservation fund.

Prof Field said: "Tigers have a very profound sense of smell and in fact we've found Calvin Klein is Sveta's favourite, but we only had Paul Smith that day. But Old Spice and Brut - they really don't do it for her."

Visitors to the zoo can drop of any unwanted perfumes or aftershaves with the staff in the admissions department who will make sure they are passed onto the keepers.

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