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After a decade of unsuccessfully trying to get their two pandas to get it on, zoo officials at Ocean Park in Hong Kong announced on Monday that the bears had finally engaged in natural mating. All it took was over two months without visitors, due to the park’s shutdown during the coronavirus pandemic.
"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 the release.
Beginning in late March, according to the zoo, the female panda (Ying Ying) started spending more time playing in the water, while the male panda (Le Le) left scent markings around his habitat and started searching Ying Ying’s scent. Those behaviors are consistent with the start of the breeding season, and they culminated with a love-making session on Monday morning.
Now, zoo officials will monitor Ying Ying for changes in her hormones and behavior that could hopefully signal a pregnancy. Whether or not the zoo will be welcoming a baby panda should be known within the next few months.
“We hope to bear wonderful pregnancy news to Hong Kongers this year and make further contributions to the conservation of this vulnerable species," Boos said.
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