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Giant Panda Adventure Temporarily Closed for Upcoming Breeding Season of Ying Ying and Le Le

2017-03-17

In anticipation of the upcoming mating season of female giant panda Ying Ying and male giant panda Le Le, Giant Panda Adventure (GPA) will be temporarily closed to the public from 18 March until further notice to allow the two giant pandas to breed and deliver in a controlled environment. The prolonged closure of GPA this year is in accordance with the recommendations of the specialist team from the China Conservation and Research Centre for the Giant Panda in Wolong (Wolong) who considered an extended closure of the exhibit an enhanced plan for the breeding of the two giant pandas.

Ms Suzanne Gendron, Executive Director of Zoological Operations and Education, said, “Ying Ying and Le Le are turning 12 years old this August. Both of them have recently displayed oestrus behaviours such as water play and vocalisations by Ying Ying, whilst Le Le has shown increased sniffing of Ying Ying’s scent. In terms of physical and hormonal changes, our veterinary team and giant panda experts from Wolong confirmed that the two giant pandas are entering this year’s breeding season. Therefore, this is considered an appropriate timing for the expert teams of Ocean Park and Wolong to prepare for Ying Ying’s and Le Le’s breeding season this year and temporarily close GPA.”

Ms Gendron continued, “Before Ying Ying and Le Le experienced their first mating season in 2011, Ocean Park has been working closely with Wolong experts, planning the breeding of the two giant pandas in hopes of producing Hong Kong’s first ever giant panda cub, thereby contributing to the conservation of the vulnerable species. Every year, Ocean Park and Wolong have joined hands to formulate the breeding plan for Ying Ying and Le Le, taking the breeding experience of the two giant pandas from the last year into consideration in order to make adjustments to the plan for the current year to improve the opportunity for success of Ying Ying’s pregnancy and birth of a panda cub. This year, as recommended by Wolong experts, the closure period of GPA where Ying Ying and Le Le reside will be longer than previous years so that Ocean Park’s giant panda husbandry and veterinary teams, together with two leading experts from Wolong including Dr Wang Chengdong and  Dr Huang Yan, will be able to closely manage and monitor Ying Ying’s and Le Le’s breeding behaviour from the moment the two pandas exhibit early signs of breeding to the time they hit the peak of their breeding cycle, until Ying Ying is confirmed pregnant and successfully gives birth to a panda cub, or until she is confirmed non-pregnant.”

Dr Wang Chengdong, Director of Veterinary Service of the China Conservation and Research Centre for the Giant Pandas said, “We are thrilled to welcome Ying Ying’s and Le Le’s mating season again and we sincerely hope that Ying Ying will be able to give birth to a panda cub to help diversify the genetic pool of the surviving giant pandas to date. By extending the closure period of GPA where Ying Ying and Le Le reside and breed, the teams of experts of Ocean Park and Wolong will be able to focus on managing husbandry efforts further for the two giant pandas and closely monitor their behaviours under a controlled environment for more in-depth analysis during their breeding cycle and Ying Ying’s gestation period if she is pregnant. We believe that this arrangement should be beneficial for Ying Ying and Le Le and for further analysis on the breeding of giant pandas in the future.”

The gestation period for giant pandas lasts between 72 and 324 days and pregnancy confirmation can only be detected by ultrasound scan earliest 14 days before birth. GPA will be reopened to the public after Ying Ying successfully gives birth to a panda cub, or after she is confirmed non-pregnant. During the closure of GPA, guests may visit the giant panda at the Hong Kong Jockey Club Sichuan Treasures.

Ocean Park will continue to update the public on the latest developments of Ying Ying and Le Le and the arrangement for GPA as information becomes available.