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Ocean Park Giant Pandas Ying Ying and Le Le Experienced First Successful Natural Mating

2020-04-06

Park Hopeful to Bear Good News to Hong Kongers

Ocean Park announces the Park’s 14-year-old resident female and male giant pandas, Ying Ying and Le Le, have shown signs of entering their oestrous cycle since end of March, and succeeded in natural mating at around 9am this morning. This is the first success since the two giant pandas began attempts at natural mating a decade ago, through which the Park hopes to bring to Hong Kongers exciting pregnancy news later this year while further contributing to the conservation of the vulnerable species.

Since late March, Ying Ying began spending more time playing in the water, while Le Le has been leaving scent-markings around his habitat and searching the area for Ying Ying’s scent. Such behaviours are consistent with those common during breeding season, which occurs once every year between March to May. With Ying Ying’s hormonal level changes, the Park’s veterinary and animal care teams confirm the two giant pandas have entered this year’s breeding season. The teams have been closely monitoring the giant pandas’ body conditions and behavioural changes and deemed it a peak oestrous this morning for natural mating opportunity.

“Male and female giant pandas are sexually mature starting at ages of seven and five respectively. 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 today is extremely exciting for all of us, as the chance of pregnancy via natural mating is higher than by artificial insemination,” says Michael Boos, Executive Director in Zoological Operations and Conservation at Ocean Park. “If successful, signs of pregnancy, including hormonal level fluctuations and behavioural changes may be observed as early as late June, though there is always a chance that Ying Ying could experience a pseudo-pregnancy. We hope to bear wonderful pregnancy news to Hong Kongers this year and make further contributions to the conservation of this vulnerable species.”

Ocean Park has been in close collaboration with experts from the China Conservation and Research Centre for the Giant Panda; today’s success exemplifies the long-term cooperation between the two entities. The Park will continue to closely monitor Ying Ying’s hormonal levels and behavioural changes and update the public on the latest developments as information becomes available. The gestation period for giant pandas ranges between 72 and 324 days; pregnancy confirmation can only be detected by ultrasound scan earliest 14 to 17 days before birth.