Ying Ying and Le Le, the coupled pandas from Ocean Park, Hong Kong, are no exhibitionists.
If indeed anything, they are very, distressingly shy. So much so that it took a pandemic and a total non-viewing environment caused by it to make them mate naturally for the first time after 10 years of bedroom trials and errors.
“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,” Michael Boos, executive director for zoological operations and conservation at Ocean Park, proudly claimed in the press release.
Since January, the park has been closed from the public, and the two months’ time has given the pandas behaviors only pertainable to mating and the breeding season. Pandas’ mating season occurs every March to May in the wild, and the timing for the zoo’s closure couldn’t have been more perfect.
The press release goes on to say:
“Since late March, Ying Ying began spending more time playing in the water, while Le Le has been leaving scent-markings around his habitat and searching the area for Ying Ying’s scent,”
This is not just a congratulatory premise for Ocean Park, but for the global ecological effort to conserve these vulnerable species, too close to being categorized as endangered, in accordance with the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. For pandas in the natural habitat, their number is limited, counting to 1800.
“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,” warns the same release, heeding to the onlookers for continued calm and less anxiety to see these couples’ live-streamed efforts of love-making.
“We hope to bear wonderful pregnancy news to Hong Kongers this year and make further contributions to the conservation of this vulnerable species,”
If the efforts go as well as planned, and Ying Ying, the female, becomes pregnant, the whole pregnancy would be spanning from anywhere between 72 and 324 days. The zoo has promised all those outside the zoo and bustling in to see more to be patient, and that they will keep posted about the couple’s significant love life.
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