MEMPHIS (AP) - There were no sonnets, violins or champagne, but future lovers Ya Ya and Le Le have met.
Zookeepers at the Memphis Zoo introduced the giant pandas this week as part of a gradual effort to get them to mate. It was the first time the two had been together since they arrived at the zoo in early April to begin a 10-year research project.
"Introducing Ya Ya and Le Le at this stage should prepare them for the time when Ya Ya is sexually mature and physically capable of carrying cubs," said Kristi Newland, mammals curator at the zoo. "Being together will also provide social enrichment for them."
Ya Ya is 3 years old and from Beijing. Le Le is 5 and from Shanghai. The pandas, on loan to the zoo from China, had been housed separately until they spent a few hours together in a China exhibit dayroom earlier this week.
"They just sniffed each other and went their separate ways," said Brian Carter, spokesman for the zoo.