Motion-Activated Camera Captures First Known Photo of Albino Giant Panda
Giant panda sightings are rare. The creatures are elusive and there are fewer than 1000 adult pandas left in the wild. As Gizmodo reports, an ecology project being conducted in China has recorded something even rarer: an albino panda bear—the first of its kind ever caught on tape.
The all-white panda was wandering through a bamboo forest in the Wolong National Nature Reserve in Sichuan when it triggered a motion-sensitive camera. The photograph is blurry, but an expert from the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Peking University School of Life Sciences confirmed that it shows a giant panda with albinism.
Albinism is a genetic condition that inhibits an organism's ability to produce melanin, the compound responsible for eye, hair, and skin color in animals. In addition to its white fur and lack of black markings, the panda in the image also has pinkish eyes, which are a telltale sign of the condition. Experts estimate the animals to be 1 to 2 years old.
The photograph was captured through a scientific survey of the Wolong National Nature Reserve. Scientists are using motion-activated cameras to study giant pandas across seven, 7.7-square-mile plots in the region. After recording the surprising image, conservationists plan to monitor the area where it was taken even more closely to learn more about the rare specimen.