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From an extremely rare “pale tiger” to all-white orca whales spotted in the Pacific Ocean, more and more albino animals are being discovered around the world. In Wolong National Nature Reserve in southwest China, a motion-activated camera recently snapped the first photo of an extraordinarily rare, all-white albino panda.
The photo, taken in April 2019, shows the unusual bear wandering through the 680-acre bamboo forest at an altitude of 6,500 feet (2,000 meters). With its distinctive white fur, the giant panda looks like a polar bear who has gotten lost—but it’s perfectly at home in the humid environment. As well as white fur and claws, the photo reveals it also has red eyes, indicating that it is an animal with albinism—a rare genetic mutation that results in a loss of pigmentation of the skin, eyes, and hair. As the image is slightly blurred, scientists could not determine the panda’s sex, but they guess that it’s somewhere between one and two years old.
A lack of protective pigment in people and animals with albinism can make them more sensitive to sunlight, resulting in potential eye damage and skin defects. However, since this particular panda is sheltered by the bamboo forest, its condition is unlikely to affect its quality of life. Li Sheng, a researcher with Peking University and a specialist in bears says, “The panda looked strong and its steps were steady, a sign that the genetic mutation may not have quite impeded its life.”
Giant pandas are currently listed as vulnerable, with less than 1,000 adults existing in the wild. This shows just how rare this white panda really is, and it could very well be the only one in the world. However, albinism is a hereditary condition, so we might see some more of these white forest bears in the future.
A motion-activated camera recently snapped the first photo of a rare, all-white albino panda in Wolong National Nature Reserve, China.
Remember the rare all-white panda captured on camera in southwest China's Sichuan?
“Judging from pictures, the panda is an albino,” says a specialist in bears. For more: https://t.co/QEMKc4pVd1 pic.twitter.com/ciZSppP1g7
— China Xinhua Sci-Tech (@XHscitech) May 25, 2019