Ultra Rare Albino Panda Spotted on Camera in China

There is only one albino panda known in the world, and recent video footage shows that it's alive and thriving. Infrared cameras in the Wolong National Nature Reserve in Sichuan, China, recorded the panda, which was last spotted in 2019. The footage, which was captured in February 2023, shows the adult panda lumbering through the snowy mountains and even getting up close with another panda and her cubs.

The rare white panda is not only missing its spots but also has red eyes, which points to albinism as opposed to other genetic mutations which would cause white fur. Experts believe that this panda, which is one of about 150 that call the reserve home, is 5 or 6 years old. While the white panda's sex is currently a mystery, the animal is reaching sexual maturity, so that will soon become apparent.

Cameras captured quite a lot of footage of the albino panda, but one thing really stuck out to experts. The white panda's interaction with the mother panda and her cubs was very interesting. While the mother panda eventually chases the white panda away, she doesn't seem particularly threatened by its presence.

“The cub in the footage is about one to two years old, and the all-white panda is nearly the size of an adult,” shared Wei Rongping, a senior engineer at the China Conservation and Research Centre for Giant Pandas. “At the end of February, wild pandas in Wolong have entered the oestrus season, during which the female pandas with cubs can be very aggressive when an adult panda approaches or invades.

“This female panda was extremely ‘calm’ and did not conform to the general rule. One possibility is that the female panda is the mother of the all-white panda.”

That theory seems to be supported by the fact that cameras caught at least 15 situations where the three bears intersected in a short period of time.

Officials were happy to see the white panda, as it is believed to be the first albino panda to be recorded since official documentation started. As albinism is rare and panda populations are low, it's even more surprising to find a white panda. Researchers are hoping to get close enough at some point to be able to collect a DNA sample, which will give them answers about the panda's genetics. And surely, they'll also keep an eye on any offspring to see if and how the albinism might be passed along.

h/t: [Science Alert]

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Jessica Stewart

Jessica Stewart is a Contributing Writer and Digital Media Specialist for My Modern Met, as well as a curator and art historian. Since 2020, she is also one of the co-hosts of the My Modern Met Top Artist Podcast. She earned her MA in Renaissance Studies from University College London and now lives in Rome, Italy. She cultivated expertise in street art which led to the purchase of her photographic archive by the Treccani Italian Encyclopedia in 2014. When she’s not spending time with her three dogs, she also manages the studio of a successful street artist. In 2013, she authored the book 'Street Art Stories Roma' and most recently contributed to 'Crossroads: A Glimpse Into the Life of Alice Pasquini'. You can follow her adventures online at @romephotoblog.
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