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Ocean Park Concludes Annual Giant Panda Mating Season Giant Panda Adventure Re-opens

2012-03-01

(1 Mar 2012 – Hong Kong) Ocean Park concluded this year’s mating season for giant pandas Ying Ying and Le Le, which took place from 27 to 29 February, and the Giant Panda Adventure exhibit was reopened to the public today (1 March). Ying Ying and Le Le had been put together multiple times for natural mating opportunities over the past three days. They responded well to each other and close interactions have been observed from the pair. Unfortunately, no successful mating behaviors have been observed. Ocean Park has twice conducted artificial insemination on Ying Ying at the peak of her estrus with Le Le’s semen in hope of creating pregnancy opportunities for her.

Ms. Suzanne Gendron, Executive Director of Zoological Operations and Education, said, “We are pleased to see Ying Ying and Le Le responding so well to each other in their second mating season. However, they are still very young and were unable to mate naturally. The peak of Ying Ying’s estrous cycle had passed yesterday, and Ying Ying has also displayed fewer estrous behaviors such as vocalization. In order to help Ying Ying and Le Le recover their strength from the busy events over the past few days, we will provide a larger variety and amount of nutritious food such as bamboo shoots for them.”

She added, “Over the next few months, we will continue to closely monitor Ying Ying’s body conditions. We expect to observe signs of pregnancy, even though it may be  pseudo-pregnancy, as early as July, which may include fluctuations in hormonal levels and behavioral changes such as decreased food intake. Meanwhile, Ocean Park will send our staff to Ya’an panda centre to receive training on the caring of panda cubs. Closer to the birth period, we will invite Wolong experts to the Park again to share information and provide on-site assistance. ”

Dr. Wang Chengdong, Director of Veterinary Service of the China Conservation and Research Centre for the Giant Panda in Wolong, said, “Male giant pandas generally mature sexually at 7 years of age. Although Le Le is only 6, his semen quality is excellent. However, he is still relatively young and was unable to mate with Ying Ying this time. The first few mating seasons of young giant pandas usually yield a success rate of only 30-50%. The pregnancy process can also be quite unpredictable, as the pregnancy duration can range anywhere from 70 to 324 days, and false pregnancies are often observed. Given the small size of the fetus, which on average weighs only 120 grams at birth, a true pregnancy cannot usually be confirmed by ultrasound until 2 weeks before birth.”

Photo 1: Ocean Park performs artificial insemination on Ying Ying
Photo 1: Ocean Park performs artificial insemination on Ying Ying
Photos 4 and 5: Ying Ying (left) and Le Le (right) meet the public again after reopening of the exhibit
Photos 4 and 5: Ying Ying (left) and Le Le (right) meet the public again after reopening of the exhibit
Photo 6: Ocean Park provides nutritious foods such as apples and bamboo shoots to help Ying Ying and Le Le recover their strength
Photo 6: Ocean Park provides nutritious foods such as apples and bamboo shoots to help Ying Ying and Le Le recover their strength
Photo 7: Ms. Suzanne Gendron, Executive Director, Zoological Operations and Education with Dr. Wang Chengdong, Director of Veterinary Service of the China Conservation and Research Centre for the Giant Panda in Wolong
Photo 7: Ms. Suzanne Gendron, Executive Director, Zoological Operations and Education with Dr. Wang Chengdong, Director of Veterinary Service of the China Conservation and Research Centre for the Giant Panda in Wolong
Photo 8: Mr. Howard Chuk, Terrestrial Life Sciences Senior Curator, Ms. Suzanne Gendron, Executive Director, Zoological Operations and Education, Ocean Park mascots Le Le and Ying Ying, Dr. Wang Chengdong, Director of Veterinary Service of the China Conservation and Research Centre for the Giant Panda in Wolong, and Mr. Timothy Ng, Zoological Operations and Education Director
Photo 8: Mr. Howard Chuk, Terrestrial Life Sciences Senior Curator, Ms. Suzanne Gendron, Executive Director, Zoological Operations and Education, Ocean Park mascots Le Le and Ying Ying, Dr. Wang Chengdong, Director of Veterinary Service of the China Conservation and Research Centre for the Giant Panda in Wolong, and Mr. Timothy Ng, Zoological Operations and Education Director