Lions live socially in their pride but turn violent when it comes to dealing with outsiders. They constantly guard their territory, show their strength, and intimidate lions from other pride.
But lions’ population is shrinking worldwide, and they need to be social with lions from other pride. Lion conservation efforts have not given desired results since lions are aggressive predators and are highly territorial. Bringing an outside cat into an area where lions are already present often becomes risky, they fight each other to kill.
In an experiment, scientists from the University of Minnesota sprayed oxytocin up their noses to promote social bonding among them.
Oxytocin is a hormone associated with emotional bonding. Sometimes called the “cuddle chemical,” it quickly takes effect in the animals’ brains, promoting feelings of well-being and happiness.
Lions became more tolerant of other lions in their space after they were given oxytocin
Jessica Burkhart, who was the lead author of the study said, “After the lions were treated with oxytocin, and we gave them their favorite pumpkin toy to play with, we saw the average distance between them drop from about 7 meters with no treatment to about 3.5 meters after oxytocin was administered,”
Scientists also tested the animals’ roar responses when under the influence of oxytocin. They found that oxytocin significantly reduced the animals’ roar responses, turning them into calm, chilled-out animals.
“You can see their features soften immediately, they go from wrinkled and aggressive to this calm demeanor,” added Burkhart. “They totally chill out. It’s amazing.”