For decades, zoos have worked tirelessly to save the giant panda from extinction. Conservationists carefully match prospective couples and observe them closely before noting a perplexing, if predictable, lack of chemistry. Natural mating fails to occur, and zoos resort to artificial insemination to keep the species alive.
The global pandemic may have accidentally proved that all pandas require is a little privacy, thank you. In January 2020, as coronavirus sent the region into lockdown, Hong Kong’s Ocean Park zoo closed its doors to visitors. A few weeks later, pandas Ying Ying and Le Le – nothing more than flatmates for ten years – shagged.
Is it a coincidence that Ying Ying and Le Le got it on at precisely the moment crowds of people stopped gawping at them? Keepers at Ocean Park zoo in Hong Kong are hoping that the mating resulted in a pregnancy, and conservationists are busily designing panda-friendly roller blinds (maybe).