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April 23, 2011

 LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla., April 21, 2011 – Cheap perfume and lions may not seem a likely match. But at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, the scent of the wild can be found in hundreds of perfume bottles being recycled by Disney cast members as part of their Earth Day activities.

Animal experts have long used unique aromas such as perfumes and spices as enrichment tools to help maintain an animal’s physical and mental health. Special treats such as toys, foods or fragrance prompt animals to explore, make choices, and maintain a level of activity in their habitat similar to their natural behavior in the wild. With a very keen sense of smell, large cats such as lions, cheetahs and tigers like to scratch, roll and mark their own scents on logs sprayed with cologne.

In addition to “aromatherapy,” lions, cheetahs and tigers are provided with a variety of other enrichment items and activities to keep the cats interested in their environments.
  • Super tough plastic balls for chasing and swatting promotes physical activity.
  • Drilling a hole in the ball and stuffing it with hard-to-get treats increases the challenge and the excitement.
  • During the summer, frozen treats may contain meat to help the cats stay cool and encourage them to use their teeth, claws and ingenuity to get to the delight inside.
  • A habitat complete with hills, tall grasses, shade trees, rocks, shrubs, fabricated termite mounds, dead trees, stumps and a sweeping view of the savannah provide opportunities to rest, communicate, interact, hide, explore the sweeping views of the savannah. 

“Enrichment such as perfume is just one of the tools used to provide world-class care for our animals,” said Matt Hohne, animal operations director for Disney’s Animal Programs. “We also rely on positive training methods that encourage animals to participate in their daily health care and challenge them to stay mentally active.”

Positive conditioning techniques train the animals to cooperate with their own medical care, which makes the vets’ work much easier and safer. For example, with a hand signal or verbal cue from a zoological manager, lions, cheetahs and tigers voluntarily open their mouths for dental exams or stand on a portable scale for routine weight checks. They also present their tails or paws during medical check-ups.

This attention to care is given to all of the more than 1,700 animals representing more than 250 species at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Guests can see lions and cheetahs on the savannah of Kilimanjaro Safari while the tigers can be seen on the Maharaja Jungle Trek within the Asia section of the theme park.

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