Fully albino giant panda spotted for first time

Spot the unspotted panda.

An image of a fully albino giant panda lumbering along in the mountains of China’s Wolong National Nature Reserve was released Saturday by researchers who say it’s the first time an entirely white panda has been identified.

An infrared camera captured the pic of the panda pawing its way through the forest at an elevation of about 2,000 meters, according to China Daily.

The panda’s whole body is covered in white fur in the image, and it has piercing red eyes, a striking contrast to the typical image of a panda with black arms and legs and large black spots circling shimmering black eyes.

“This is the first time a fully albino wild giant panda has been caught on camera, indicating there must be a gene mutation in the giant panda population,” said Li Sheng, a researcher at Peking University’s School of Life Sciences, according to the South China Morning Post. “Judging from the photo, the panda is physically strong and taking steady steps, suggesting the gene mutation is not affecting its normal life.”

Panda experts knew that albinism occurred in pandas, according to the BBC, but had never before captured a fully white panda on camera. Officials said they would continue to monitor to see if the albino panda has any relationship to the nearby giant panda population.

Sheng said the panda is probably around one or two years old, and the lack of pigmentation would have no effect on the animal’s physiological functions or its ability to reproduce. The bear might, however, be more sensitive to the sun.

15 PHOTOS
Yang Yang the panda at Vienna Zoo
See Gallery
Yang Yang the panda at Vienna Zoo
Giant Panda Yang Yang holds a brush behind pictures it painted at Schoenbrunn Zoo in Vienna, Austria, August 10, 2018. One hundred of her works will be sold online for 490 euros each, to fund a picture book about the Vienna zoo's pandas. Picture taken August 10, 2018. REUTERS/Heinz-Peter Bader TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Panda Yang Yang, mother of one year old Fu Bao, munches a bamboo at the end of the visitors' hours at Schoenbrunn Zoo in Vienna on August 27, 2014. AFP PHOTO / JOE KLAMAR (Photo credit should read JOE KLAMAR/AFP/Getty Images)
Giant Panda Yang Yang uses finger paint and a brush to create a picture at Schoenbrunn Zoo in Vienna, Austria, August 10, 2018. One hundred of her works will be sold online for 490 euros each, to fund a picture book about the Vienna zoo's pandas. Picture taken August 10, 2018. REUTERS/Heinz-Peter Bader
*** VIDEO AVAILABLE *** VIENNA, AUSTRIA - 5 JANUARY: Five month old panda being picked up by their mother in Sch�nbrunn Zoo in Vienna Austria, 5 January 2017. Panda twins at Sch�nbrunn Zoo in Vienna will be five months old on Saturday. 'Their day consists of playing, being fed, exploring their surroundings and of course lots of sleeping. When they want to sleep, they both withdraw into their cosy tree hollow where they can`t be seen, says zoo director Dagmar Schratter. Mother Yang Yang always keeps a close eye on her young ones. This is really necessary as Fu Feng and Fu Ban explore their surroundings full of curiosity. They are now making their first attempts at climbing, play with a ball or gnaw playfully on bamboo canes. If they get too boisterous or when its time to be fed, Yan Yan will carry them by the scruff of the neck to a suitable place. The twins are suckled up to twice a day. The zoo is extremely pleased by their splendid development: Fu Ban, the young male weighs seven kilos, and his sister Fu Feng weighs more than nine kilos which is well above average for this age. PHOTOGRAPH BY ZooBorns / Barcroft Images London-T:+44 207 033 1031 E:hello@barcroftmedia.com - New York-T:+1 212 796 2458 E:hello@barcroftusa.com - New Delhi-T:+91 11 4053 2429 E:hello@barcroftindia.com www.barcroftimages.com (Photo credit should read ZooBorns / Barcoft Images / Barcroft Media via Getty Images)
Giant Panda Yang Yang uses finger paint and a brush to create a picture at Schoenbrunn Zoo in Vienna, Austria, August 10, 2018. One hundred of her works will be sold online for 490 euros each, to fund a picture book about the Vienna zoo's pandas. Picture taken August 10, 2018. REUTERS/Heinz-Peter Bader
Giant Panda Yang Yang and its cub Fu Ban open parcels containing food on the twin cubs' second birthday at Schoenbrunn Zoo in Vienna, Austria, August 7, 2018. REUTERS/Heinz-Peter Bader
Giant Panda Yang Yang holds a brush behind pictures it painted at Schoenbrunn Zoo in Vienna, Austria, August 10, 2018. One hundred of her works will be sold online for 490 euros each, to fund a picture book about the Vienna zoo's pandas. Picture taken August 10, 2018. REUTERS/Heinz-Peter Bader
*** VIDEO AVAILABLE *** VIENNA, AUSTRIA - 5 JANUARY: Five month old twin pandas Fu Feng and Fu Ban playing in Sch�nbrunn Zoo in Vienna Austria, 5 January 2017. Panda twins at Sch�nbrunn Zoo in Vienna will be five months old on Saturday. 'Their day consists of playing, being fed, exploring their surroundings and of course lots of sleeping. When they want to sleep, they both withdraw into their cosy tree hollow where they can`t be seen, says zoo director Dagmar Schratter. Mother Yang Yang always keeps a close eye on her young ones. This is really necessary as Fu Feng and Fu Ban explore their surroundings full of curiosity. They are now making their first attempts at climbing, play with a ball or gnaw playfully on bamboo canes. If they get too boisterous or when its time to be fed, Yan Yan will carry them by the scruff of the neck to a suitable place. The twins are suckled up to twice a day. The zoo is extremely pleased by their splendid development: Fu Ban, the young male weighs seven kilos, and his sister Fu Feng weighs more than nine kilos which is well above average for this age. PHOTOGRAPH BY ZooBorns / Barcroft Images London-T:+44 207 033 1031 E:hello@barcroftmedia.com - New York-T:+1 212 796 2458 E:hello@barcroftusa.com - New Delhi-T:+91 11 4053 2429 E:hello@barcroftindia.com www.barcroftimages.com (Photo credit should read ZooBorns / Barcoft Images / Barcroft Media via Getty Images)
Giant Panda Yang Yang uses finger paint and a brush to create a picture at Schoenbrunn Zoo in Vienna, Austria, August 10, 2018. One hundred of her works will be sold online for 490 euros each, to fund a picture book about the Vienna zoo's pandas. Picture taken August 10, 2018. REUTERS/Heinz-Peter Bader
VIENNA, AUSTRIA MARCH 09 : Fu Feng, the twin female panda (L), plays with her mother, Yang Yang (R) at Vienna Zoo, Vienna, Austria on March 09, 2017. Fu Feng is the most active of the twins and always tries to climb higher, as Fu Ban, the twin male, prefers to relax. (Photo by Omar Marques/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
Giant Panda Yang Yang uses finger paint and a brush to create a picture at Schoenbrunn Zoo in Vienna, Austria, August 10, 2018. One hundred of her works will be sold online for 490 euros each, to fund a picture book about the Vienna zoo's pandas. Picture taken August 10, 2018. REUTERS/Heinz-Peter Bader
VIENNA, AUSTRIA MARCH 09 : Fu Feng, the twin female panda (R), plays with her mother, Yang Yang (L) at Vienna Zoo, Vienna, Austria on March 09, 2017. Fu Feng is the most active of the twins and always tries to climb higher, as Fu Ban, the twin male, prefers to relax. (Photo by Omar Marques/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
Female Panda Bear Yang Yang eats bamboo in the Vienna Zoo 19 March 2003 in Vienna. Yang Yang gave birth 23 August 2007 to the first Giant Panda Bear conceived naturally in captivity in Europe, versus the common artificial insemination of female Giant Panda Bears. According to the director of the zoo Dagmar Schratter, the parents of the bear Yang Yang and Long Hui 'live together in perfect harmony'. AFP PHOTO/DIETER NAGL (Photo credit should read DIETER NAGL/AFP/Getty Images)
A still image from a monitoring camera shows giant panda mother Yang Yang holding her newborn cub inside a birth box at Schoenbrunn zoo in Vienna, August 15, 2013. The panda cub, whose sex is not yet detectable, was born on August 14, measures some 10 cm (3.9 in) and weighs about 100 grams, the zoo reported. REUTERS/Tiergarten Schoenbrunn/Handout via REUTERS (AUSTRIA - Tags: ENVIRONMENT ANIMALS) ATTENTION EDITORS - FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS. THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. IT IS DISTRIBUTED, EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY REUTERS, AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS. MANDATORY CREDIT
Giant Panda Yang Yang touches a snowman in her enclosure at Schoenbrunn zoo in Vienna, Austria February 2, 2017. REUTERS/Heinz-Peter Bader
HIDE CAPTION
SHOW CAPTION
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE

If it does reproduce, its offspring would only inherit the albinism if both parents carried it as the trait is recessive, according to officials. They said they will attempt to continue to track the snow-white bear by installing more motion cameras.

A 2014 census found about 1,800 giant pandas alive in the world, according to the World Wide Fund For Nature. Their status is “vulnerable," according to the WWF. They need to eat at least 25 pounds of bamboo each day.

Read Full Story

Sign up for Breaking News by AOL to get the latest breaking news alerts and updates delivered straight to your inbox.

Subscribe to our other newsletters

Emails may offer personalized content or ads. Learn more. You may unsubscribe any time.