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Scientists use Calvin Klein cologne to lure reclusive jaguars

Researchers studying elusive, nocturnal animals often use camera traps, which are triggered when the creature comes close to them. So what’s the best way to get these animals to come close enough to get a photo or video? According to Scientific American’s The Thoughtful Animal blog, researchers swear by Calvin Klein’s Obsession for Men.

Miguel Ordenana, a biologist with the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles, who studies the solitary, night-hunting jaguars of Nicaragua, tells the blog that he experimented with other scents, spraying them on a tree branch near the camera trap, before happening on the attraction of the Calvin Klein cologne. (A four-ounce bottle sells at Macy’s for $71.)

“It has civetone and it has vanilla extract,” he told the blog, which pointed out that “civetone is a chemical compound derived from the scent glands of civets, smallish nocturnal cat-like critters native to the Asian and African tropics, and it’s one of the world’s oldest perfume ingredients.” (Modern scentmakers often use synthetic versions of civetone.)

According to Ordenana, “What we think is that the civetone resembles some sort of territorial marking to the jaguar, and so it responds by rubbing its own scent on it,” which gets the jaguars to trigger the camera. And the vanilla? It might prompt the cat’s curiosity.

This is important, the blog points out, because camera traps “help researchers collect evidence of rare species or rare behaviors, as was demonstrated last week when a camera trap captured shocking images of a golden eagle attacking a sika deer. Or they could help researchers come face to face with an animal that might otherwise be dangerous or harmful. An array of camera traps is also more cost efficient than paying an army of field assistants to observe animal behavior or to conduct a census.”

It’s unclear what relevance this might have for the guy who wears Obsession on a date. But if you’re planning to go on a safari, you might want to leave the scent at home.

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