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At Least Someone's Getting Busy During Quarantine

Giant pandas in Hong Kong zoo mate naturally for first time after a decade of trying
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 7, 2020 8:07 AM CDT

(Newser) – The story is a little more involved than the headline implies, but the New York Times neatly wraps up what just went down in Hong Kong: "Some Giant Pandas Had Sex." Per CNN, the Ocean Park zoo in Hong Kong has been shut down for a coronavirus quarantine since late January, and apparently those more private conditions led to pandas Ying Ying and Le Le mating on Monday—the pair's first fruitful relations in a decade of attempts. "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," zoo executive Michael Boos says in a release. Because zoo staff had observed recently changing hormonal levels in Ying Ying, they'd been keeping a close eye on the two, cameras in hand (here's a link to NSFW video).

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The event is a big deal for wildlife conservationists, as the pandas are considered a vulnerable species, with only about 1,800 in the wild, per the latest stats from the World Wildlife Fund. The Times notes the coupling is a "rare feat" for a "famously low-libido species," which typically only gets in the mood for a few days each year, even in the wild. Sometimes desperate zookeepers will even try to show panda porn—video of others pandas having sex—to the animals. Per the South China Morning Post, Ying Ying—who's been artificially inseminated and also mated with other pandas—has had a miscarriage and false alarms over the past decade. Signs of pregnancy likely wouldn't appear till June, and a cub wouldn't show on an ultrasound scan until about two weeks before its birth. If it turns out Ying Ying is with baby panda, she could gestate anywhere from 72 days to 324 days. (Read more giant pandas stories.)

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