For the first time ever, an all-white, albino panda has been photographed and it is PRECIOUS.
The panda, which is believed to be the first of its kind, was released by scientists at Wolong National Nature Reserve in Sichuan, China earlier this month.
The picture was captured in mid-April with the reserve’s motion activated cameras which show the panda cub walking through greenery. The panda is also believed to be between the ages of one and two years old according to an official statement released by the local conservation authority.
In the statement, the discovery of the panda cub reveals that “there is a ‘whitening’ mutant gene in the giant panda population in Wolong.”
Based on the photo itself, it is assumed that the panda is albino due to is white hair, white claws and red eyes.
Albinism in mammals happens when an individual inherits one or more mutated genes from both parents that interfere with the body’s production of melanin.
Melanin is the main pigment that determines the color of skin, fur, and eyes according to the National Geographic.
It should be noted however that animals with albinism are often at greater risk from predators in the wild as they can be spotted more easily and have poorer eyesight.
But albinism does not affect the body structure or physiological functions of the animal and usually has no significant effect on animal activity and reproduction.
With the panda’s nature being “physically strong” as well as a “steady gait,” the mutation may not truly affect the life of a normal panda.
And should the cub reach maturity and mate with another wild panda in a few years, it is possible the albino gene will pass on to other generations although the nature reserve notes this will need to be observed through continuous field monitoring in the protected area.
The camera (which also snapped the animal) was set up in December of last year with the nature reserve planning to set up more cameras in the hopes of capturing the panda cub’s growth and development.
Researchers also hope to track its activity and its community relationship.
While experts understood that albinism did exist in pandas – a completely white panda had never before been captured on camera.
Scientists wondered for many years whether or not pandas were a type of bear, racoon or something else entirely.
But thanks to genetic studies, it was made obvious that pandas are in fact, all bear.
Pandas are distinguished from other types by their large size as well as black-and-white coloring. Their coloring gives them camouflage in the the wild as giant pandas are almost invisible in dense patches of bamboo.
And speaking of the stuff, giant panda’s LOVE to eat bamboo so much that they spend 12 hours a day consuming it.
According to National Geographic, that is 28 pounds of bamboo a day.
Giant pandas have a special bone that extends from their wrists called a “pseudo-thumb,” which they use to both hold and manipulate the bamboo.
Okay then it’s settled. Pandas are my new favorite animal!
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