An incredibly rare albino giant panda has been spotted in China – and it could be the only one of its kind.
According to CCTV footage from the Wolong National Nature Reserve in Sichuan Province, southwestern China, the bear can be seen walking in the snow.
Covered head to toe in pure white fur, the bear is thought to only be around five or six years old, and could be the only one of its kind in the world.
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It lives with 150 giant pandas, all of which are the standard black and white.
Reserve authorities said the panda appears to be in good health.
The distinctive animal with white fur and claws, and red eyes was initially spotted on reserve cameras in April 2019 at an altitude of about 2,000 metres.
A special team has since been monitoring the panda and studying its daily movements with the help of motion-activated cameras.
Cameras also captured it climbing up the base of a huge tree, presumably searching for food.
It was reportedly even seen interacting with numerous other regular black-and-white pandas that live in its surroundings, although its parents are still unknown.
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A researcher at the Peking University’s School of Life Sciences, Li Sheng, claimed this is the first-ever albino panda recorded in the wild.
Professor Li Sheng, from the School of Life Sciences at Peking University, said: “It is still unclear whether its gene will be inherited and steadily passed on in the small panda population, and more follow-up research is needed.”
The giant panda – a species native to China and considered to be the country's national treasure – has been classified as 'vulnerable' on the IUCN Red List.
According to China's 2021 biodiversity report, there are approximately 1,860 giant pandas living in the wild – but just one known albino panda exists among them.
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