Rare Albino Panda Spotted At Nature Reserve In China

An all-white giant panda, believed to be an albino, was spotted inside a nature reserve in Sichuan, China. An expert said the existence of the rare albino panda can be attributed to a genetic mutation.  ( Kevin Stewart | Pixabay )

A rare albino panda has been photographed for the first time in China. The spotless, all-white panda was seen inside the Wolong National Nature Reserve.

All-White Panda Caught On Cam

The image of the panda was captured through a motion-activated camera at an altitude of about 2,000 meters above sea level. The photo released by Wolong's administrative bureau shows the panda's unique physical features — particularly its snowy white hair, paws, and reddish eyes.

Authorities from the nature reserve said the wild animal was spotted in mid-April while it was trekking the lush forests of the reserve in Sichuan Province.

"This is the first time a fully albino wild giant panda has been caught on camera, indicating there must be a gene mutation in the giant panda population," said Li Sheng, a researcher at Peking University's School of Life Sciences. Li estimated the panda to be a juvenile between one to two years old. Based on the images, the animal appears to be strong and in perfect health.

The reserve said it had no further information on the albino panda. However, more cameras will be installed in the region where the panda was spotted.

A Result Of Albinism Mutation

Pandas have distinctively thick black and white fur. The existence of an all-white panda suggests an albinism mutation gene in the regional panda population in the reserve, according to Li, a bear specialist. Each animal inherits two sets of genes from its parents, and characteristics of albinism may appear when the genes from both parents contain the same mutation.

While simple albinism mutation does not seem to affect the daily life and reproduction of the albino panda, the animal can be conspicuously seen in the wild, and its body will be more sensitive to direct sunlight.

Wolong: Hometown Of Giant Pandas

The reserve that is known as the hometown of giant pandas is located about 130 kilometers (80 miles) from Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan Province. It is the largest and most well-known panda reserve in China that provides natural environment for the bears. It is regarded as an ideal place for the reproduction of giant pandas because of its humid climate that is favorable to bamboos, the favorite food of pandas. More than 80 percent of the world's wild pandas can be found in Sichuan.

There are different zones inside the reserve for pandas of various ages and their activities: for babies, grown-ups, sub-adults, as well as areas for breeding, and wildness training. Visitors of the reserve may see pandas walking freely inside the area.

The reconstructed Wolong Panda Center inside the reserve is a base for integrating scientific research, captive breeding, and reintroduction of pandas into the wild. It has a large bamboo forest covering 275.6 hectares for captive giant pandas.

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