This Has Never Before Been Seen in the Wild

Fully albino giant panda spotted in Chinese forest
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted May 27, 2019 9:25 AM CDT
It Looks Like a Polar Bear, Is Far More Rare
Hey, buddy.   (Wolong National Nature Reserve)

Chinese researchers believe they've captured the first footage of a fully albino giant panda in the wild. The panda, believed to be a year or two old, was spotted on an infrared camera some 6,500 feet above sea level in Sichuan's Wolong National Nature Reserve in April. "The panda looked strong and his steps were steady, a sign that the genetic mutation may not have quite impeded its life," Li Sheng of Beijing's Peking University tells CNN, which notes animals with albinism have poorer eyesight than their peers in addition to being more easily spotted by predators. Per the South China Morning Post, the panda with snowy white fur and red eyes might also be more sensitive to the sun.

Researchers plan to set up more cameras in the hope of watching the panda mature, interact with other pandas, and possibly breed. It would need to find a mate with the same albinism mutation in order to produce albino offspring, as the gene is recessive, per the Post. There are thought to be fewer than 2,000 giant pandas in the wild—80% of which reside in Sichuan, per Al Jazeera. The other 20% reside in Shaanxi and Gansu provinces, which will connect to Sichuan with the creation of Giant Panda National Park, announced last year. Some $1.45 billion has been allotted for the project so far. (A white orangutan, moose, and elephant have also been spotted.)

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