Ocean Park announced today that giant pandas Ying Ying and Le Le would participate in Mainland China’s National Giant Panda Breeding Program with hope of contributing to the sustainability and growth of the global giant panda population.
Since giant panda Ying Ying and Le Le entered their first mating season in 2011, Ocean Park has been in discussions with the Government of the HKSAR, the State Forestry Administration of China, the Forestry Department of Sichuan Province (“SFD”), as well as the China Conservation and Research Centre for Giant Panda (“CCRCGP) at Wolong each year to design the most appropriate breeding plan for the pair. Ying Ying and Le Le will participate for the first time in the National Giant Panda Breeding Programme, with the aim of contributing to the overall giant panda population, enhancing the genetic diversity of the population under human care, and making a contribution to the overall giant panda conservation effort. On 12 February 2015, Ying Ying will temporarily be relocated to Sichuan for natural mating opportunities with experienced genetically appropriate male(s) at the panda base, and will return to Hong Kong by the middle of this year. Concurrently, Le Le’s frozen semen will also be transported to Wolong for artificial insemination with other mature female giant pandas.
Mr. Zhang He-Min, Director of CCRCGP, said, “We are thankful to Ocean Park’s animal care and veterinary teams for their dedicated work in supporting the giant panda breeding efforts in Hong Kong over the past few years. The two giant pandas are in excellent health, as evidenced by Ying Ying’s typical estrus behaviors during the past two breeding seasons and Le Le’s semen quality. These indicate that their bodies have fully matured and are now at an optimal time to take part in Wolong’s giant panda breeding programme.”
Mr. Matthias Li, Deputy Chief Executive at Ocean Park, said, “We are pleased that Ying Ying and Le Le can be a part of Wolong’s breeding programme. We hope that they will be able to contribute to the propagation of the overall giant panda population, and to take up the role as conservation ambassadors to educate and inspire people towards understanding and protecting this precious species and their living habitats. We have already devised a detailed plan to ensure Ying Ying’s wellbeing during her stay in Sichuan at the panda base for a few months, including arranging the Park’s giant panda husbandry and veterinary teams to accompany Ying Ying to Sichuan and support her with the best possible care.”
The National Giant Panda Breeding Programme was first launched by Wolong in 1986, and Ocean Park’s Le Le was one of the early successes. In 2002, Le Le’s father Ling Ling, who was originally from Chongqing Zoo, was sent to live at Yaan Bifengxia Giant Panda Base for natural mating opportunities. During the 2005 breeding season, LeLe’s mother, Haizi, was paired with Ling Ling and subsequently gave birth to Le Le in August 2005. In 2014, a total of 30 giant panda cubs were born under this programme.
- END -