Giant Pandas Mate For First Time In Empty Hong Kong Zoo After 10 Years Together
While some people wait until at least the third date to sleep with someone, these two giant pandas waited a whole 10 years before doing the dirty.
With the species currently classed as ‘vulnerable’, zoos across the globe are actively trying to encourage them to breed, but giant pandas are notoriously lazy.
So, when Ocean Park in Hong Kong celebrated pandas Ying Ying and Le Le getting acquainted with one other, should we say, it wasn’t being perverse. Indeed, it hopes the rare encounter will lead to an new addition to the park.
The two pandas have apparently been flirting since March, with Ying Ying playing in their enclosure’s pond more often and Le Le leaving scent markings around his habitat.
Apparently breeding season typically takes place for giant pandas between March and May.
The park shared the exciting news on its website today, April 6.
Michael Boos, Executive Director in Zoological Operations and Conservation at Ocean Park, said in the statement:
Male and female giant pandas are sexually mature starting at ages of seven and five respectively. Since Ying Ying and Le Le’s arrival in Hong Kong in 2007 and attempts at natural mating since 2010, they unfortunately have yet to succeed until this year upon years of trial and learning. The successful natural mating process today is extremely exciting for all of us, as the chance of pregnancy via natural mating is higher than by artificial insemination.
If successful, signs of pregnancy, including hormonal level fluctuations and behavioural changes may be observed as early as late June, though there is always a chance that Ying Ying could experience a pseudo-pregnancy. We hope to bear wonderful pregnancy news to Hong Kongers this year and make further contributions to the conservation of this vulnerable species.
Despite the park currently being closed, those who work there will continue to monitor Ying Ying’s hormone levels and behavioural changes and have said they will keep the public updated on how she’s doing.
The gestation period for giant pandas ranges between 72 and 324 days and pregnancy confirmation can only be detected by ultrasound scan earliest 14 to 17 days before birth, so we’ll be waiting a while to see if the mating was successful.
Fingers crossed the park will go on to welcome a new panda to the family!
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