The Pandanya is known for its hairy black and white badges, and wildlife experts were amazed when they saw a white-eyed panda moving in a bamboo forest in China last month.
This giant giant panda (Ailuropoda melanoleuca) is the first known albino of this species.
“Judging from the pictures, pandas are albino for one or two years,” said Lee Sheen, a professor of conservation biology at Beijing University who specializes in bears.
The researchers photographed a rare bear with an infrared camera (a device that records heat differences) in the Wolong National Nature Reserve in Sichuan Province, China. The photo was taken on April 20, but Wildlife officials announced the discovery on May 25.
During improvised shooting, Albinopanda explored bamboo forests at an altitude of around 2,500 meters. This is one of nearly 1,900 wild pandas that live in the wild. 300 other pandas live in captivity at zoos and breeding centers, according to the Smithsonian National Zoo.
A study in 2017 found that pandas tended to wear their black and white colors to hide better in the snow and in the shadows. Large black circles around the panda can also help the bear to recognize themselves, the researchers found in this study.
Little is known about this newly discovered spooky panda. Albinism is a condition in which people do not have pigmentation on their skin, eyes or hair. In humans, albinism can increase the risk of blurred vision and skin cancer. In the wild, recessive disorders and different characteristics make it difficult for animals to hide from predators.
Luckily, Albinopanda did not seem to receive this message.
“The pandas look strong and their footsteps are stable, a sign that genetic mutations do not hinder his life,” Li said.
Other albino animals seen in recent years include gorillas, 3-year-old Riso dolphins off the coast of California, and zebras in the Hawaiian nature reserve.