Sasha is a 450-pound Siberian tiger at the Bronx zoo who likes beef and rabbit for dinner, tasty bloodcicles for a treat, and a spritz of Calvin Klein's Obsession for Men for fun. And he’s not alone. The Wall Street Journal reports that the cheetahs, cougars, tigers and other big cats have long been intrigued by the exotic fragrances people wear out in society. Recently, scientists and animal curators decided to take a look at this quirky preference.

In 2003, a study at the Bronx Zoo considered how big cats reacted to popular perfumes. Pat Thomas is the general curator for the Wildlife Conservation Society's Bronx Zoo in New York. Using 24 popular scents, Thomas watched how the animals interacted with the scents. He found that cheetahs spent 11.1 minutes hovering over objects sprayed with Obsession for Men. As the Wall Street Journal reports, this is far longer than any big cat takes over a meal. And as it turns out, Obsession for Men is a favorite amongst all types of big cats.

Thomas’ research soon caught on with wildlife biologists studying animals in the field. Roan Balas McNab is a Wildlife Conservation Society program director in Guatemala. He studies jaguars in the Maya Biosphere Reserve, a protected tropical forest. He has been trying to figure out the size of the resident jaguar population, and since 2007, he has been using Obsession for Men to do so. 

The jaguars of the area are elusive and hard to count. Previously, McNab and his colleagues had used heat-and-motion-sensitive cameras placed along animal trails to get pictures of the big cats. The animals had to pass through the camera’s detection range and linger in front of cameras. But this was pre-Obsession for Men. Researchers decided to spray rags tied to sticks with the cologne. As the WSJ reports, three times as many of the cats walked by cameras sprayed with the cologne than those without it. The cats lingered so long that researchers were even able to see extremely elusive mating behaviors. 

None of this is a surprise to perfume experts. Ann Gottlieb is the "nose" who helped create Obsession for Men. As she told the WSJ, "It's a combination of this lickable vanilla heart married to this fresh green top note — it creates tension … The cologne also has synthetic "animal" notes like civet, a musky substance secreted by the cat of the same name, giving it particular sex appeal."

Now biologists just need to keep the costly fragrance in stock. Obsession for Men costs around $60 a bottle. In the meantime, the Bronx Zoo relies on donations. No word on what the big cats would do should their Obsession be denied.  

Read the full story: Big cats obsess over Obsession for Men

Big cats obsessed with Calvin Klein's Obsession
Musky fragrance now used in zoos and wildlife studies to maintain the interest of jaguars, cougars, tigers and more.