Drums fail in Sapporo zoo bid to coax gators to mate


A recent drum performance at a zoo in Sapporo to coax Chinese alligators to mate appeared promising but fell short of its goal, as the reptiles seemed excited by the sound, according to zoo officials.

Maruyama Zoo invited a local percussionist to play drums Monday so that a pair of Chinese alligators could hear a low-pitched sound similar to the noise they would typically make to each other during the February-March mating season.

The zoo has previously had success in breeding the species, the population of which has been rapidly declining in recent years, by knocking on the glass of the alligators’ enclosure. But that method was no longer possible after renovations last year made the glass too thick to knock on and emit a sound.

When percussionist Goshin Moro beat Japanese and African drums in front of male alligator Yoyo and female alligator Susu, the latter stuck her head out of the water and growled loudly. Although Yoyo remained silent, he did approach Susu.

“The drumming was effective. We will try again at an appropriate time,” said zoo official Naoya Honda.

Chinese alligators inhabit the basin of the Yangtze River.

In 2001, the zoo succeeded in breeding Chinese alligators for the first time in Japan and was successful twice more, in 2008 and 2009.