The world’s only all-white panda has been recorded on an infrared camera at the Wolong National Nature Reserve in Sichuan, China.
The one-of-a-kind bear has no spots on its body and unique red eyes, leading scientists to conclude that it is albino.
While there is another panda that lives in the northern Qinling Mountains with a rare color variation, that one has a brown and white combination and is not all-white like the one at Wolong.
The footage, recorded 6,561 feet (2,000 meters) above sea level, shows the albino creeping up to a black and white panda that is presumed to be its mother. She stays relatively calm but chases her offspring away.
“The cub in the footage is about one to two years old, and the all-white panda is nearly the size of an adult,” Wei Rongping tells The Strats Times.
“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.”
“This individual may have been the first wild all-white giant panda recorded since official documentation began,” adds Li Sehng, a researcher from Peking University.
“However, it is still unclear whether its unique genetic traits will be within the small population and ever be stably inherited.
“Further research is needed to fully understand the implications of this discovery for the genetics and conservation of giant pandas.”
Albinism in pandas is caused by a genetic mutation and it is incredible that it exists at all in such a vulnerable and endangered species.
Giant pandas are considered a national treasure in China and mainly live in the southwest region of the country — their diet consists almost exclusively of bamboo,
According to the WWF, there are around 1,864 pandas in the wild. In 2017, the conservation organization reported that wild panda numbers were rebounding and its status was changed from endangered to vulnerable.
Image credits: All photos by Wolong National Nature Reserve.