How to Get an Alligator in the Mood for Mating

One zoo's plan for disinterested gators? Knocking — and we don't mean boots.

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In the movies, when a woman suggests that she go slip into something more comfortable, the subtext is clear: She’s up for a little romance. But how can you tell when an alligator is ready for a roll in the hay swamp? And what do you do if an alligator isn’t interested in mating? Now a zoo in Japan is trying to answer the age-old question: How do you get an alligator in the mood for love?

The solution, according to Sapporo’s Maruyama Zoo, may lie in knocking, and we’re not talking about boots. The zoo has found some success in drumming up (pun intended) the alligators’ interest in sex by repetitively hitting a large Japanese “taiko” drum. According to an article from the AFP, the zoo believes the banging will, well, lead to banging, because the sound produced by the drum is similar to a pre-coital mating call naturally produced by Chinese alligators. “We believe the drumming was effective. We hope to try again in the future, during the alligator’s mating season from February through March,” said Hideaki Yamamoto of Sapporo’s Maruyama Zoo.

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The lack of sex drive may stem from a recent change in the alligators’ enclosure. Previously the lust lacking gators lived in a glass-encased home that zookeepers could knock on to produce the knocking sound. Their new home has an acrylic surrounding, which does not produce a satisfyingly accurate pre-coital mimicry. Hence the zookeepers have had to resort to banging the drum. Although the drum is not proving as successful as the glass in promoting animal husbandry. “After listening to the drum performance, the female alligator Susu cried a few times but the male, Yoyo, appeared not to be interested,” said Yamamoto to AFP. Maybe they should try Marvin Gaye and candlelight?

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