Pandas at Hong Kong Zoo Finally Mate After Decade During Coronavirus Shutdown

April 8, 2020

All they needed was a little bit of privacy.

While people are social distancing at home due to the quarantine, two pandas at a zoo in Hong Kong are being celebrated for mating naturally after a decade of trying.

Ying Ying and Le Le have been living together for over 13 years, but they’ve never been able to “get in the mood.”

That is until the zoo was shut down to the public in an effort to combat the spread of coronavirus and they finally had some alone time to get physical.

“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 in zoological operations and conservation at Ocean Park. “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.”

Pandas have a mating season of just a few days per year, according to The New York Times, so when they show some desire to mate naturally, it calls for celebration.

Since park officials were aware that mating season was upon them and picked up on some of Ying Ying’s hormonal changes, they were on hand to capture photographs and videos of the pandas in action in their natural habitat.

Whether or not the mating was successful will remain a mystery for some time as the gestation period for pandas is from 72 to 324 days, but there’s hope that a little panda is on the way.

"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.

The species’ disinterest in engaging in the act has made them particularly vulnerable, with only 1,864 giant pandas remaining in the wild, according to the Worldwide Fund for Nature.

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