How Denver Zoo uses perfumes, essentials oils for animal enrichment

DENVER - Perfume and zoo animals. It’s not exactly combination you’d expect to see, but Denver Zoo has been combining the two for years as part of an enrichment opportunity for animals.

Zookeepers say squirting a little perfume, cologne or essential oils inside select exhibits helps encourage a variety behaviors in animals – like ones they were built to do in the wild. 

9NEWS got to see how the process works with snow leopards Himal and Natasha on Monday.

When the new scent is sprayed into their enclosure, the animals sometimes display a cheek-rubbing behavior similar to a pet cat.

“When they do that, they’re picking up scent information from their environment but then they’re also depositing they’re own,” Emily Insalaco, Curator of Behavioral Husbandry at Denver Zoo said. “So, it’s kind of like an environmental white board. They’re checking for notes and leaving their own notes for whoever might come next.”

This type of scent strategy also encourages the animals to explore more of their environment.

And because animal like snow leopards have such sensitive noses, it only takes a small amount for them to be stimulated by the scent.

If you’re looking to get rid of some smelly perfume or cologne ahead of Mother’s Day, the zoo is always accepting donations of unused scents.

© 2017 KUSA-TV


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