Here’s the thing about alligator sex: It’s weird by mammal standards.
See, mammals like you and me have what evolutionary biologists like to call a “ding-dong” and a “what-what,” and the way we mate is that we put the two parts together until one or both of the participating parties (OK, usually just one) has a Happy Moment. Sure, things may be a little different for monotremes like the echidna and the platypus, but if you’re spending an undue amount of time thinking about platypus sex you are probably a pervert and should be locked up.
Birds and reptiles do things a bit differently. They keep their sex organs in a revolting little flesh pocket called a “cloaca” (the plural of which is “cloaca”). When birds and reptiles mate (never with each other, except in the furry community), they briefly press their cloaca together. Wildlife biologists the world over agree that this process is, from a purely evolutionary standpoint, disgusting.
So why am I telling you about alligator sex? Because there’s potentially about to be a lot more of it going on in Los Angeles.
That’s because Reggie the alligator, the LA Zoo’s resident Alligator mississipiensis, is getting a new girlfriend today. Her name is Cajun Kate, which sounds like the name of the maid of honor at a shotgun wedding. By gator standards, I’m sure Cajun Kate is a real looker, though in the interests of full disclosure I should note that I have not seen her cloaca.
Reggie isn’t your standard zoo gator. In 2005, he was discovered in Machado Lake in Harbor City; despite the efforts of city officials and professional gator hunters, Reggie wasn’t seen again for two years, when he was finally captured and brought to the zoo.
Today, in addition to getting a new sweetheart, Reggie is getting an upgraded habitat, designed at least partially at preventing his escape. Only a few months after his capture in May 2007, he climbed a chain-link fence, leaving his enclosure, and got as far as a nearby loading dock before he was recaptured.
Reggie’s new digs, as well as Cajun Kate (who, it should be noted, is twice his age, which from an alligator standpoint is pretty hot), will be unveiled today at the zoo.