Most recreational and amusement parks have been closed to abate the spread of the coronavirus pandemic. And while this has caused much disappointment to most tourists, there is some great news otherwise!
Two giant pandas at the Ocean Park Zoo in Hong Kong mated for the first time in 10 years, thanks to the privacy that they have gotten due to the closure of the zoo due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Ying Ying and Le Le have been residents of Ocean Park since 2007. And they had been encouraged by the zoo keepers to mate since 2010 but were clearly unwilling to do so. Reports have attributed this reluctance to the myriad visitors that visited them each day, robbing them of their privacy.
Researchers and experts gave up on these pandas and tried the process of artificial insemination, extracting the sperm from Le Le and inseminating Ying Ying. However, unfortunately, this too resulted in miscarriages.
Now, due to the coronavirus pandemic, the park was closed to visitors on 26th January onwards. And, interestingly, the pandas began showing some signs of wanting to mate.
According to reports from local sources, Le Le left more scent marking around the enclosure while Ying Ying, who is in her oestrogen cycle, spent more time in water, all of which are signs consistent with mating behaviour. Much to the delight of the park managers, the two pandas were seen cuddling intensely and finally mating recently.
While it is too early to say whether Ying Ying would be pregnant, researchers believe that they should be able to confirm the news by June after analyzing the hormonal fluctuations and behavioural changes in the panda.
“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, noted in a press release.
“We hope to bear wonderful pregnancy news to Hong Kongers this year and make further contributions to the conservation of this vulnerable species.”
Do we humans come in the way of animals living their natural lives? Maybe!