After ten years, who would have thought the coronavirus pandemic would have given a pair of pandas in Hong Kong the privacy they needed to mate naturally? At Ocean Park Hong Kong, pandas Ying Ying and LeLe have been reported to be expecting a baby panda – the world is thrilled.
According to the Ocean Park Hong Kong social media page, Ying Ying, 14, and LeLe had been spending more time together playing in the water in late March – shortly after the park was closed to visitors.
“Good News from Giant Panda Ying Ying & Le Le💕] Ying Ying and her long-standing sweetheart Le Le succeeded in natural mating today! This is the first success since the cute couple began attempts at natural mating 9 years ago (from 2011). The Park’s veterinary and animal care teams have been closely monitoring the giant pandas’ body conditions and behavioural changes, hoping to bring wonderful pregnancy news to you all. Let’s leave a ❤️ emoji in the comment section to send your blessing to our lovable Ying Ying and Le Le!”
The natural mating process is much more likely to result in a pregnancy than artificial insemination. With any luck, we might see a baby panda by the end of the summer. Their gestation period ranges from 72 and 324 days; pregnancy can only be detected by ultrasound scan at the earliest from 14 to 17 days before birth. At birth, a panda cub weighs three to five ounces (described as the size of a stick of butter) – is pink, hairless and blind. Female adult pandas can grow to 200 pounds while the males can top 300 pounds.
Pandas are endangered mainly due to habitat loss since most of the bamboo forests have been cleared away. It is estimated there are just over 1,800 pandas left in the wild. They are considered a national treasure in China.
Updates to follow.
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