Perfume helping zoo animals get some smells of the wild

Posted at 5:55 PM, May 31, 2017

Got a perfume or cologne you really can't stand? There's a chance an animal at the zoo might love it even if you don't.

Really? Perfume for animals?

"I think scent enrichment is a really good way to promote natural behaviors," says zookeeper Michelle Valois.

She says spraying the perfume, or scent enrichment, is meant to mimic something these hogs do in the wild: Mark their territory.

"They are very scent-oriented and so anything that smells new or different and they kind of want to put their own scent on it," Valois says. "So scent really works into their natural behavior."

Valois says they've picked up on perfume preferences.

"We joke that if you can find grandma's perfume that she's had for years and years and years, and might not smell very good to us, there's a good chance that the hogs are going to love it," Valois says.

And you can tell when a scent is a hit.

"They do have those scent glands located under the chin," Valois says. "So a lot of them are rubbing their chins on the scents. They'll also rub their front legs and then down the sides."

Zoos across the country have been using scent enrichment for years, not just on hogs but with all sorts of animals from primates to big cats.

"It simulates their mind with searching out the scents and experiencing new things," Valois says. "It keeps them busy."

So while a spray from perfume bottles may just make humans smell and feel good, for some animals, it's a small piece of life in the wild.

"I want them to do everything and be able to experience everything here that they would in their natural environment," Valois says.