Cross-species couple to get hitched

Updated: 2012-02-08 07:57

By Xing Yu and Guo Anfei (China Daily)

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 Cross-species couple to get hitched

Changmao the ram and Chunzi the doe live together in Yunnan Wild Animal Park, Yunnan province. Li Li / for China Daily

KUNMING - Wedding bells are on the horizon for Changmao (Long Hair) the ram and Chunzi the doe, a cross-species couple in Yunnan Wild Animal Park who are set to be married this Valentine's Day.

The zoo will hold the wedding together with a wedding planning company, and the company will cover the cost.

Changmao and Chunzi will take wedding photos a few days before the wedding. On the wedding day, after taking a bath, they will be dressed in wedding clothes.

The 2-year-old ram and 3-year-old doe have lived together since December 2009 in a fenced area about half the size of a basketball court. In December 2010, staff members noticed that Changmao and Chunzi had begun having sex.

Many bucks chased Chunzi, but she spurned them for Changmao.

However, because the couple could never produce offspring, keepers tried to separate them in December 2011, which led to some dramatic scenes.

When Changmao was paired with a sheep, he hurt his arranged partner and his baby, and Chunzi tried to lick him to calm him. After this incident, zookeepers decided not to separate them anymore.

"From our point of view, their relationship is incredible. We saw that the alpha male deer tried to help bring Changmao back to the deer's area when we tried to separate them, and we realized that the deer accept their relationship. Therefore, we should not intervene anymore," said Li Li, a staff member of Yunnan Wild Animal Park.

However, many of Chunzi's would-be suitors are not so amicable.

"Some bucks had tried to separate Changmao and Chunzi, and some of them challenged Changmao. One month ago, a buck's leg was broken in a fight with Long Hair," Li said.

Changmao and Chunzi are in a good mood now and spend a long time together every day.

Huang Cheng, an associate professor of biology at Nanjing University, said that the ram might mistake the doe for a member of the same species because they were raised together.

"This kind of behavior rarely happens in the wild because animals always live together with other members of the same species. But in the zoo, because they were raised together, it is also possible that a ram would consider a doe a potential sexual partner," Huang said.

Guo Lihua, a Kunming resident, thought that the relationship is unbelievable. "Maybe Changmao and Chunzi have some mental problems, but I bless them, and I want to attend their wedding," Guo said.

"The wedding symbolizes the harmony between human beings and animals," said Yang Ziyang, another resident of Kunming.

China Daily

(China Daily 02/08/2012 page3)