Photo/Illutration

Editor's note: This is part of a series of videos offering an up-close perspective on the animal kingdom. A special 360-degree video camera system was set up in zoos and other facilities to show how the animals view their world as they interact.

Also visit our special 360-DEGREE LIVES page (http://t.asahi.com/360lives), where you can watch all the previous videos.

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Skunks are known for their ability to deter even the most determined predator by spraying a foul-smelling liquid from their anal scent glands.

How bad is the smell? Truly overwhelming.

Six striped skunks are kept and displayed at the Kobe Animal Kingdom in Kobe.

Skunks inhabit grasslands and forested areas in the United States. Covered by black fur, the striped skunk is characterized by a white streak on its face and a white stripe that splits in two on the back.

“The intense odor comes not from the skunk passing gas, but from a bodily secretion sprayed from its anal scent glands,” said zoo attendant Miki Ishizaka.

Visitors don't need to worry about being sprayed as the mammals there had their liquid-secreting, pouch-shaped glands removed when they were just months old.

“Would you like to smell it since you’re here?” the attendant said as she emerged from the backyard with a container wrapped in several layers of plastic bags.

Inside were the scent glands removed from a skunk born last year.

I asked her to open the lid a little. No sooner had I waved my hand to smell it, I was assaulted by an odious odor, which prompted a staff member a few meters away to say: “Oh my, that's pungent.”

The smell was something I had never experienced before. To my mind, there was a hint of burned onion and garlic.

Skunks are cowardly by nature and spray the liquid when they feel threatened. As warnings before spraying, they raise their tail high to display the anus or invert their body into a handstand.

The skunk odor will linger for a while if it comes into contact with human skin, but clothes need to be thrown away.