Two Giant Pandas Have Finally Mated For The First Time In 10 Years
Zookeepers in Hong Kong are thrilled after two of their giant pandas successfully mated.
While a pair of animals having sex might sound like a strange story, it's the first time Ying Ying and Le Le successfully got their rocks off in 10 years.
All eyes are now on the female to see if she will become pregnant and keep the numbers of giant black pandas ticking along.
Michael Boos, executive director of zoological operation and conservation at Ocean Park, said in a statement: "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.
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"We hope to bear wonderful pregnancy news to Hong Kongers this year and make further contributions to the conservation of this vulnerable species."
The coupling has come smack-bang in the middle of mating season and zookeepers had a hunch this moment was coming after spotting several signs - such as Le Le leaving scent markings and Ying Ying spending more time playing in the water.
Ocean Park has been shut for several weeks in the wake of the coronavirus - perhaps the lack of visitors watching on while they were trying to have an intimate moment has contributed to this successful pairing...?
The gestation period for a panda typically ranges from 72 to 324 days, which is not a narrow window. Zoo staff will be able to confirm whether Ying Ying is pregnant around 14 to 17 days before the birth.
Giant panda mating has been typically difficult in captivity, especially back in the 1970s when zoos kept the animals apart until the season had begun.
Rates of mating are a lot more successful these days, however it is still hard to ensure the two animals will be in the mood at the same time.
Hopefully this rare occasion at Ocean Park will foreshadow the arrival of a tiny panda cub in the coming months.
Featured Image Credit: Ocean Park