"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," said Michael Boos, executive director of zoological operation and conservation.
Amidst the coronavirus quarantine, two giant pandas in a Hong Kong zoo found themselves having sexy time for the first time after 13 years of being together in the park. In a report, staff of the Ocean Park and zoo announced an exciting news that female panda Ying Ying and male panda Le Le have finally mated after years and years of “trial and learning”.
The park eventually released some photos of their historical mating. Pandas in captivity are known to be “notoriously bad” at mating, which led to a slowly increase of their population since 2004. The news of Ying Ying and Le Le successfully mating naturally made the staff, and even some netizens around the world, really thrilled– and envious.
Ocean Park zoological operation and conservation executive director Michael Boos shared that since Ying Ying and Le Le’s arrival in Hong Kong in 2007, there were some attempts of natural mating in 2010 but it never happened – until recently.
“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,” Boos told Buzzfeed News.
The animals have been embracing and seemingly teasing each other, since January 26 when Hong Kong authorities temporarily closed all non-essential businesses or establishments due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. Boos said, in late March, they saw positive signs that the two had entered their “hormonal estrous cycle or mating cycle.”
The zoo staff also added that they have been seeing Ying Ying spending more time in the water, while Le Le was leaving scent traces around his habitat as he searched for his lover. Both bears, they said, showed signs that they were “feeling sexually aroused than usual.”
The park veterinarian said that they have now been monitoring the two since their first sexual intercourse hoping that it results to Ying Ying’s pregnancy.
“If successful, signs of pregnancy, including hormonal level fluctuations and behavioral changes may be observed as early as late June, though there is always a chance that Ying Ying could experience a pseudo-pregnancy,” Boos said.
Boos said he’s hopeful that Ying Ying will bear “wonderful news” to Hong Kongers this year, especially in times of coronavirus pandemic when any good news is always welcome.
A panda’s pregnancy period ranges between 72 to 324 days or from over 2 months to more than 10 months. However, the pregnancy will only be detected through an ultrasound about two weeks before it gives birth.
Netizens, who were mostly staying and working from home reacted to the announcement of Ocean Parks: they were both happy for Ying Ying and Le Le — and little bit jealous.
Meanwhile, another netizen pointed out that the pandas were probably having a hard time breeding in captivity because there were always people around them.
Others threw in some jokes, too.
The International Union for Conservation of Nature placed giant pandas under the endangered category list. However, after a slight increase of 17% pandas between 2004 and 2014, the organization shifted them from endangered species to animals being “vulnerable”.
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