Finally, some good news: Ying Ying and Le Le, giant panda partners of a decade who had never, until this point, mated, finally got panda-busy at a Hong Kong zoo. Pandas are well known for not doing well, having-babies-wise, in captivity. It’s become a real problem — in 2014, there were less than 2,000 giant pandas left in the wild.
Pandas struggle to mate naturally so much that some zookeepers have shown giant pandas videos of other pandas having sex, as if that might help them figure it out. Add that to the fact that female giant pandas are only fertile for one to three days out of the year, and the mating problem is compounded. Many zookeepers also resort to artificial insemination of female pandas, which is not as successful as natural mating.
But Ying Ying and Le Le were in the mood, apparently. And it might have something to do with their newfound privacy. The park, which has been shut down to visitors since January 26, has been completely empty of visitors except for the zookeepers. In any case, they appeared to both be in the mood as they practiced a typical panda mating dance. Ying Ying took to the water to play. Le Le left scent markings. Zookeepers grabbed cameras and waited for the action. You know the drill.
Zookeepers won’t know for quite some time that the pandas were successful in getting panda-pregnant. Apparently, pandas are pregnant for anywhere from 95 to 160 days and ultrasounds can’t detect panda cubs in the mom’s belly until about two weeks before they’re ready to give birth. But zookeepers may have found out something major: like most human beings, pandas might need a little bit of privacy to get busy.
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