Calvin Klein's Obsession for Cats

June 8, 2010

WCS conservationists in Guatemala are using a swanky scent to lure jaguars and other endangered wildlife toward motion-sensitive cameras that snap photos of the animals as they pass by. The photos help researchers estimate population numbers for these shy species.

The jury is still out on what cologne has the most alluring effect within the dating scene, but on the conservation scene, there is a clear winner: Calvin Klein’s Obsession for Men.

WCS conservationists are not sure why, but wild cats love this scent. When sprayed on objects, all sorts of feline species—jaguars, cheetahs, ocelots, pumas, cougars, snow leopards, and tigers—come calling. Tapirs and peccaries seem to dig the aroma, too.

The scientists are using the perfume within the zoos of New York City as well as in the Maya Biosphere Reserve of Guatemala. Among the largest protected areas in Central America, the reserve is one of the most important jaguar refuges in the Americas.

In the wild, Obsession lures wildlife toward motion-sensitive cameras that snap photographs of the animals as they pass by (or in this case, as they stop and sniff). The photos help conservationists estimate the population numbers of shy wildlife species, such as the jaguar.

“Jaguars are highly elusive creatures and for years WCS researchers struggled to develop more effective methods for estimating how many jaguars were in the forest, hidden amongst the ancient Maya temples,” said Roan McNab, country director for WCS-Guatemala. “Now, due to the fact that jaguars love Obsession for Men, WCS field conservationists are getting more precise estimates of jaguar populations.”

WCS field researchers knew to use this particular swanky smell due to the efforts of Pat Thomas, the general curator at the Bronx Zoo. Thomas applied a variety of perfumes and colognes to trees and rocks in the zoo’s tiger, snow leopard, and cheetah exhibits. After several rounds of trials, he discovered that Calvin Klein Obsession for Men incited the biggest response from the big cats. They rubbed, sniffed, and pawed at objects previously spritzed with the fragrance, thoroughly enjoying the high-end cologne. Both female and male animals are attracted to the scent, but only Obsession for Men, not Obsession for Women, induces such wild reactions.

“Calvin Klein Obsession for Men clearly passes the sniff test among the WCS Bronx Zoo’s big cat population,” said Thomas. “More importantly, this work is a great example of how the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Living Institutions and Global Conservation Programs work together to save wildlife and wild places.”

The WCS Jaguar Conservation Program began in 1999 to support research that helps scientists to understand what jaguars require for survival, and to begin testing ways to minimize conflicts between jaguars and people. WCS has led a coalition of more than 80 conservation groups to advance the Great Cats and Rare Canids Act. The act would direct the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to commit resources to on-the-ground conservation of big cats like jaguars.

See big cats becoming obsessed over Obsession in this video.

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