“We like to give our lions and tigers interesting and novel things that they are not used to seeing—or smelling—every day. We have more than 25 spices in stock, from peppermint, clove and cinnamon to cayenne, basil and beef bouillon.
“Today, I am sprinkling some clove and peppermint (which is in the catnip family) into a tub with some other enrichment items, a boomer ball and a fire hose. Cats are very curious animals. Pavel tends to approach new items cautiously. Once he realized they were not a threat, he began to sniff and inspect the tub. He appeared to enjoy the smell and rubbed his head on the tub to anoint himself with the scent.
“Scent enrichment also encourages our cats to use a natural behavior called the Flehmen response; they run a scent across the Jacobson organ (olfactory sensor) to get a more intense smell of a substance. Males typically use this behavior in the wild when they are hunting or searching for a mate. Pavel doesn’t appear to have a favorite spice. He seems to be interested in all smells equally!”—Dell Guglielmo, animal keeper