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NO AVERAGE BEAR

An albino giant panda has been caught on camera for the first time

Wolong National Nature Reserve
The as yet nameless bear.
  • Natasha Frost
By Natasha Frost

Reporter

The giant panda is vanishingly rare, with fewer than 2,000 specimens left in the wild. But these black-and-white beasts look positively commonplace compared to their albino cousins, one of whom was caught on camera last month.

The big white bear was captured by an infrared camera while roaming the high-up woods of Wolong National Nature Reserve. He is believed to be only a couple of years old, Li Sheng, a researcher with Beijing’s Peking University, told Chinese media. It is the first time that an albino panda has ever been recorded in the wild.

Albinism, which impedes the body’s ability to make a normal amount of melanin, often brings with it bad eyesight—and can make such animals an easy target for hungry predators. Happily, this panda appears to be in good condition. “The panda looked strong and his steps were steady, a sign that the genetic mutation may not have quite impeded its life,” Li said.

The nature reserve now intends to put up more cameras, with a view to documenting their newfound treasure as he moves about the reserve. If nothing else, he should be easy enough to spot.

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