Ocean Park

Two Pandas Finally Mated After 10 Years Of Trying While Zoo In Lockdown

Officials at Hong Kong's Ocean Park, a "marine mammal park, oceanarium, animal theme park and amusement park," are feeling optimistic about the chances of a pair of giant pandas successfully breeding after the two were caught canoodling for the first time in a decade.

Like most large tourist attractions, Ocean Park has been closed to visitors during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Instagram | @hkoceanpark

The park regularly welcomes about 7.7 million guests per year, so the park has been much quieter than usual.

Other zoos around the world have used the quiet time to do some things they otherwise wouldn't be able to, like letting some of the animals explore the park and meet some of the other inhabitants.

At Ocean Park, however, the time seems to have been ripe to realize something that's been sought after for a long time.

Le Le and Ying Ying were first introduced about a decade ago.

Instagram | @hkoceanpark

The hope was that the two would eventually mate, but of course, giant pandas are notorious for having a difficult time breeding, at least in captivity.

So, it was with no small amount of anticipation when, in late March, zookeepers noticed some signs that Le Le and Ying Ying might actually be interested in getting it on.

Instagram | @hkoceanpark

"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," a press release from zoo officials read.

Shortly thereafter, the magic finally happened.

Ocean Park

And zoo officials are hopeful that there's still more magic to come.

"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," the press release read.

Park officials say they're closely monitoring Ying Ying for signs that the mating bore fruit, but it will be some time yet before they know for sure.

Facebook | Ocean Park Hong Kong

"If successful, signs of pregnancy, including hormonal level fluctuations and behavioral changes may be observed as early as late June."

But until that time, they're being careful not to count their chickens before they hatch.

Instagram | @hkoceanpark

"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."

h/t: CNN, BuzzFeed News

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