It looks like pandas want a little privacy when they have sex, just like humans do.
Two pandas, who have been together for over a decade, mated for the first time in 10 years. Zookeepers who were monitoring them during the COVID-19 lockdown in a Hong Kong theme park were stunned.
There are plenty of articles on the internet commenting on how the birth rate for pandas is exceptionally low and how they are too lazy to mate, yet perhaps the issue all along was that they simply don’t want to be gawked at by hundreds of strangers while performing the act. Maybe they are more self-aware than we give them credit for.
Both Ying Ying and Le Le reside in Ocean Park in Hong Kong and now may potentially be having a little panda child together.
“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, said in response to the unexpected news.
Coronavirus Lockdown Leads to an Unexpected Perk
As a result of the COVID-19 lockdown in Hong Kong and around the world, places like this zoo have been closed for the past several weeks. Mating season for pandas is between March and May, which is when staff at the zoo began noticing that Ying Ying and Le Le began acting affectionate towards one another, as well as acting frisky overall.
“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.”
Staff at the zoo are actively monitoring Ying Ying, to identify whether there are any signs she will have a baby panda of her own.
“If successful, signs of pregnancy, including hormonal level fluctuations and behavioral changes may be observed as early as late June.” said Boos.
With less than 2,000 giant pandas still living in their native habitats, according to the zoo, the sight of Ying Ying and Le Le mating provides hope that there will be more giant pandas in the future. More updates on Ying Ying and her potential pregnancy will be forthcoming from the zoo.