"It's just something that's been known in the zoo community for many, many years that different scents have attracted cats in particular," Thomas said in an interview. "I started a study to look at exactly how much time our cats would spend with a particular scent. I then noticed that certain scents elicited things such as cheek rubbing behavior," he said. Thomas said the zoo could use various behavioral responses to their advantage. For instance, with the cheek rubbing behavior, the researchers could put the scent on hair-trapping devices to gather hair follicles and study DNA patterns, he said. "What started out as sort of a way to stimulate animals ... we found a way to benefit animals in zoos and nature," Thomas said. WCS field conservationists are now using the scent to attract cats, especially jaguars, in front of remote cameras located in the Maya Biosphere Reserve, one of the largest protected areas in Central America.