Easy gets a squirt in the nose which could bring companionship. As part of the ADI Wildlife Sanctuary lion introduction work (bringing together animals currently living alone), Jessica Burkhart from the University of Minnesota, is using a nasal spray of a natural hormone, oxytocin, often called the “love hormone”. This hormone is involved in childbirth, breast-feeding and is associated with feelings of empathy, trust and relationship-building – is released when lions rub heads, for example. This treatment enhances natural hormones, and has already had success in lion, tiger and cheetah introductions. The process increases the likelihood of animals making new friends – although it can’t make animals who do not like each other, get along.
Over the past weeks, David and Easy have been getting treats and enrichment from Jessica, and the lions seem to barely notice the squirt up their nose while they are distracted with a treat. Easy lost her sister Shakira (who was rescued from the same circus in Colombia) and we are in the process of her being united with David (who was rescued from a circus in Peru). We are also hoping to join up Rolex and sisters Kiara and Africa, and Bumba with Iron, as they both lost their friends. We are calling the project Operation Lonely Hearts! To avoid confusion – this is not a drug and is not related in any way to drugs with “oxy” in the name!