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Hong Kong’s giant pandas mate for first time

The giant pandas Ying Ying and Le Le at Hong Kong’s Ocean Park have moved a step closer to having their offspring finally after successfully mating for the first time on Monday, the South China Post reported.

After repeated failures and a miscarriage in the past 10 years, the black-and-white heartthrobs mated it at the age of 14 during the ongoing mating season between March and May, the park said.

Their behaviour is seen as a breakthrough as male and female giant pandas become sexually mature at the age of seven and five years respectively.

Signs of pregnancy, if any, are expected to be observed at the earliest in late June.

“Since Ying Ying and Le Le’s arrival in Hong Kong in 2007 and attempts at natural mating since 2010, they unfortunately have yet to succeed until this year despite years of trial and learning,” Michael Boos, executive director of the park’s zoological operations and conservation, said.

“The successful natural mating process today is an extremely exciting news for all of us, as the chance of pregnancy via natural mating is higher than by artificial insemination.”

In 2015, Ying Ying and Le Le joined a national programme in Wolong, Sichuan, the biggest panda reserve in Mainland China, at which Ying Ying was mated with different pandas and also artificially while Le Le’s semen was used to artificially inseminate other pandas.

Ying Ying was soon confirmed pregnant, but then miscarried. Several rounds of false alarms took place in the following years.

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