- Distinctive animal was first discovered by nature reserve cameras in April 2019 at 2,000 metres above sea level
- New footage shows the bear interacting with several other regular black-and-white giant pandas, according to state media
A rare albino giant panda – believed to be the only one of its kind – has been spotted again in the wild in southwestern China.
Camera footage of the all-white animal was released by the Wolong National Nature Reserve in Sichuan province, state broadcaster CCTV reported on Saturday (May 27).
The panda was believed to be about five or six years old, and did not appear to be suffering from any health problems, the report said.
The distinctive animal was first spotted by the nature reserve’s cameras in April 2019, at about 2,000m above sea level. The reserve released the first images of the animal in May that year, showing its white fur and claws and red eyes.
Reserve authorities had since set up a special team to monitor the panda, according to CCTV. The researchers studied the bear’s possible routines, and installed and adjusted motion-activated cameras to capture its movements.
The new footage also shows the all-white animal interacting with several other regular black-and-white giant pandas at an altitude of about 2,600m above sea level, according to a report from state-run People’s Daily.
This is the first albino giant panda recorded in the wild, Li Sheng, a researcher at Peking University’s school of life sciences, was quoted as saying in the CCTV report.
“It is still unclear whether its gene will be inherited and steadily passed on in the small panda population, and more follow-up research is needed,” he said.
China also discovered 10 rare brown giant pandas in the wild between 1985 and 2021, according to state media.
Among them is a male named Qizai, who was first spotted in November 2009 at the Foping National Nature Reserve in northwestern China’s Shaanxi province.
Qizai was about two months old when he was discovered and has since been living in captivity at a panda breeding research centre in Shaanxi.
The first brown panda to be found was a female named Dandan, spotted in 1985. She was mated with a regular black-and-white giant panda and gave birth to three cubs that were all black-and-white. Dandan died of cancer in 2000.
Giant pandas are native to China and mainly live in the mountains of Sichuan, Shaanxi and Gansu provinces. China’s 2021 biodiversity report said there were about 1,860 of them in the wild.
This article was first published on SCMP.