March 10, 2019
The Alligator Chorus
- as seen by -Madeleine Thompson
Did you know that alligators bellow?
Maybe you’re a herpetologist or an expert in alligator trivia, or maybe you’re just an all-around genius, and you already knew that yes, alligators bellow. Maybe you even already knew that sometimes alligators bellow in unison, forming their own little alligator chorus.
I did not know this until I came across the 1919 article shown above, alongside a photo of the largest alligator at the Bronx Zoo in 1919. The article appeared in a magazine published by the Wildlife Conservation Society. I hadn’t set out to find a charming story about Bronx Zoo alligators singing along to the whistles of ships returning to New York from World War I. But one of the great joys about working in a library or archives is that frequently, while setting out to find one thing, you learn something else completely new and fascinating.
Just in case the article had taken some liberties with the truth, I wrote to our Curator of Herpetology, Don Boyer, who confirms that, in fact, alligators in the Bronx Zoo’s World of Reptiles today will bellow in unison to thunder or other loud percussive noises.
EDITOR’ S NOTE: A story of some current alligator residents at the Bronx Zoo was featured on Sunday’s episode of Animal Planet’s THE ZOO now in its third season. The series takes viewers behind the scenes at the Bronx Zoo and the other WCS wildlife parks in New York City to tell powerful, compelling stories of animals and their care givers, and the zoos’ contribution to conserving wildlife around the globe.