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Ocean Park’s pandas mate during Coronavirus lockdown
After 10 years of attempts at having its giant pandas mate, Ocean Park Hong Kong has advised that, with the attraction now closed to the public due to Coronavirus restrictions, the pair have decided to make the most of their newfound privacy.
With Ocean Park first encouraging "natural mating” between Le Le and Ying Ying 10 years ago, staff have reported that the duo began leaving "scent markings" around their enclosure last month, the first signs of the animals mating ritual.
In a statement, Michael Boos, Ocean Park’s Executive Director in Zoological Operations and Conservation, advised “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 ... is extremely exciting for all of us, as the chance of pregnancy via natural mating is higher than by artificial insemination."
According to Ocean Park, the pair began "spending more time playing in the water" and leaving "scent markings" around their enclosure towards the end of March, coinciding with the beginning of the panda mating season, which lasts until May.
If successful, Ying Ying could show signs of pregnancy as early as late June - although Ocean Park notes that she could also experience a "pseudo-pregnancy".
Boos added “we hope to bear wonderful pregnancy news to Hong Kongers this year and make further contributions to the conservation of this vulnerable species.”
Boos highlighted that the chance of pregnancy via natural mating is higher than by artificial insemination.
According to the World Wildlife Organisation, there are just over 1,800 pandas left in the wild.
Image: Ocean Park’s Le Le and Ying Ying (courtesy Facebook/Ocean Park).
26th January 2020 - Coronavirus fears sees closure of Hong Kong and Shanghai Disney resorts
16th January 2020 - Hong Kong’s Ocean Park reveals future vision as adventure-themed attraction
31st December 2019 - Perth Zoo welcomes birth of rare Nepalese red panda cubs and bearcat cubs born
16th December 2019 - Ride investment sees Ocean Park rack up another year of deficit
24th November 2019 - Giant Pandas to remain at Adelaide Zoo for another five years
4th September 2019 - Hong Kong’s Ocean Park launches marine research facility
10th July 2019 - Hong Kong’s Ocean Park looks to treble solar power capacity by 2020
7th June 2019 - Entrance prices at Hong Kong’s Ocean Park rise by 4%
18th February 2019 - Revenue rises but deficit remains at Ocean Park Hong Kong
1st March 2018 - Hong Kong’s Ocean Park to get HK$310 million Government bail out
15th September 2017 - World’s oldest panda dies at age 37
13th May 2016 - Ocean Park event celebrates panda conservation
10th November 2015 - South Korean theme park to welcome Giant Panda pair
8th October 2015 - Giant Pandas and Little Penguins combine for conservation
7th October 2015 - Ocean Park looking forward to Giant Panda birth
30th July 2015 - Hong Kong pandas reach world record for longevity
10th August 2011 - Panda anniversary highlights Ocean Park’s Conservation standards
23rd July 2010 - China launches global search for panda keepers
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