Love hormones that work wonders on lions too

AGI – Oxytocin, better known as the love hormone, also works wonders on lions, transforming them from ferocious cats into ‘kittens’, promoting their socialization, thus coexisting with foreign specimens in stock and breeding. This is the result of a long-running scientific study published in the journal Science – involving spraying oxytocin on the lion’s nose.

Longtime fan of lions, neuroscientist Jessica Burkhardt, lead author of the study, explains that lions are generally the exception to Felids’ tendency to be independent, or rather gain this reputation.

In fact, “two years later, the male lions abandon the proud behavior with which they defend their territories in the African savannah and meet other male lions they do not know and with whom they do not belong, but with whom they have a lifelong relationship.” Burkhardt said.

This kind of behavior indicates Unlike lions, cheetahs, or solitary leopards, some are biologically programmed to mate.Which makes them an interesting species to test the effects of oxytocin.

Credit Jessica Burkhart

In South Africa, in a nature conservation in Dinokang, Burkhardt and his colleagues at the University of Minnesota conducted an experiment using pieces of raw meat to entice lions into a enclosure between 2018 and 2019. They then spray the hormone directly into the lion’s nose using a device similar to an ancient perfume bottle, so that it reaches the cat’s brain directly. At the end of the test The 23 lions treated with oxytocin seemed to be more tolerant than the others in the same area..

A reduction in aggression that was measured with a short distance – from 7 m to 3.5 – in lions treated with oxytocin when their favorite toy in the shape of a pumpkin was inserted into the cage. Similarly, lions treated with oxytocin did not respond to the roar when recordings of unknown specimens were played in space, which were not sprayed with anything or saline.

Reducing hostility to alien lions is a particularly exciting discovery, with the benefit of conservation of the species.. In humans, oxytocin has a dark side that it promotes positive feelings within the same group but may increase competition with the outside world, which is not found in treated lions.

Positive uses of the treatment include the possibility of creating bonds between unknown lions rescued from adverse conditions such as circuses or war zones to keep unknown lions in the sanctuary. On the other hand, when African cities expand and invade lion territory, conservationists are forced to keep their enclosed shelters where unknown herds are kept: oxytocin can help prevent conflict in these situations.

Finally, Burkhart said that love hormone therapy can also help relocate wild, helping lions to “lean more towards their new social environment so that they are more curious and less afraid, which leads to a bond. More effective.”

The risk of such discoveries about the power of oxytocin is that unscrupulous operators use chemicals in stocks and zoos that encourage puppy stroking, a hypothesis that has been widely criticized by proponents of animal welfare.

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