WHAT’S BEING CLAIMED:
- An all-white panda was photographed in the wild in a bamboo forest in China.
- Photos have lead wildlife experts to conclude that it is the first panda to display albinism.
- The rare bear seems healthy despite albinism having usually causing health issues in people and problems with hiding from predators for animals.
When you think of a panda, the first thing that probably comes to mind is their black and white coloring. Last month though, wildlife experts made a startling discovery in a bamboo forest in Sichuan Province, China — an all-white panda with red eyes.
Li Sheng, assistant professor in conservation biology at Peking University and a specialist in bears, told China Central Television (CCTV), “Judging from pictures, the panda is an albino, 1 to 2 years old.”
It’s one of the approximately 1,900 pandas left living in the wild. Photos of the bear were snapped in the Wolong National Nature Reserve about 6,500 feet above sea level with the use of an infrared camera on April 20, but the discovery was only announced May 25.
In a 2017 study, findings suggest that pandas are colored the way they are because it helps with camouflage- hiding in the shadows and snow. The dark circles around their eyes may also serve as identifying marks for different bears too.
This bear is the first and only known panda that displays albinism so far. Albinism is the condition where those with it do not have pigmentation in the skin, hair, or eyes. People who have albinism usually have vision problems and increased risk of skin cancers. Animals with albinism can have a harder time hiding from predators.
Luckily for this ghost-like panda, Li told CCTV that it “looked strong, and his steps were steady, a sign that the genetic mutation may not have quite impeded its life.”
Source: Live Science