Using perfumes to lure killer cats
In 2003, there was a report about New York’s Bronx Zoo suggested that female cheetahs loved Calvin Klein’s male parfum, aptly named Obsession. The zoo staff experimented with other scents but it turned out that none could beat CK’s Obsession when it came to exciting female cheetahs.
It is thought that the musk from the glands of the civet cat, the key ingredient of Obsession is what makes it irresistible to certain wild cats. When zoo keepers sprayed this parfum on trees, female cheetahs would rub against those particular tree trunks that had been sprayed. This obsession wasn’t universal -- while Bronx Zoo's female cheetahs loved Obsession for Men, pumas at New York City's Queens Zoo preferred a more natural option: skunk urine.
In 2015, there was a man-eating tiger in the south Indian state of Tamil Nadu that was captured using CK Obsession for Men. HS Prayag, leading vet and carnivore-expert reckons that wild beasts can spot fakes better than humans as imitation perfumes bought at the local night markets didn’t work as well!
The Guardian reported today that CK Obsession is being considered an option to catch a man-eater on the loose in India. A six-year-old tiger, simply called T1, has been terrorizing people in Pandharkawada, a small town not far from Mumbai, India’s financial capital. It is thought to have killed nine people and Sunil Limaye, the wildlife officer leading the hunt is considering if he should deploy this Calvin Klein cologne to catch a killer.
As an expert on skin I am sometimes called to treat animals, but when I was researching for my latest book, The Genetics of Health I realised that genomics can determine even things like parfum preferences.
Hammerlich, author of a study that was published in the International Journal of Cosmetic Science noted that two people with dissimilar MHC genes enjoyed each other’s scents more than did two people with similar MHC genes. This is thought to be an evolutionary adaptation meant to discourage people with closely matched genes (such as relatives) from mating.
Another study in the European Journal of Human Genetics confirmed this observation by studying married couples. Professor Bicalho, the lead author, says that “real partners had significantly more MHC dissimilarities than we could have expected to find simply by chance.” This is interesting as if you and your friend like the same scents, it may be that a platonic relationship may be more harmonious.