Albino Panda Discovered In China Reserve
A fully albino giant panda in Wolong National Nature Reserve, in China's Sichuan province.
(Photo: Courtesy of information office of the Sichuan government)
Giant male panda Xiao Liwu eats a meal of bamboo before being repatriated to China with his mother Bai Yun, bringing an end to a 23-year-long panda research program in San Diego, California, U.S., April 18, 2019. Picture taken April 18, 2019. (Photo: REUTERS/Mike Blake)

A rare occurrence was recently spotted in China following a sighting of an albino panda in a reserve. Albino pandas are very rare which makes the sighting quite a sight to behold. While there are about 500 giant pandas in China, there are only a handful of albino species that are accounted for.

The sighting was first reported by China's state-owned media agency, Xinhua. According to the report, the sighting happened in the southwest region of Sichuan.

Li Sheng, a researcher specializing in bears at Peking University, said that the panda is between one to two years old. It is estimated that 80 percent of the wild pandas are living in Sichuan while the rest are in the Shaanxi and Gansu province.

China is advancing its methods in the research of pandas. Recently, a facial recognition app was developed to identify the pandas. The researchers built a database with over 120,000 images and 10,000 video clips of giant pandas to be used to correctly identify individual animals.

According to Chen Peng, a researcher at the China Conservation and Research Center for Giant Pandas, the app and database will help us gather more precise and well-rounded data on the population, distribution, ages, gender ratio, birth and deaths of wild pandas, which live in deep mountains and are hard to track.

According to Xinhua, there were about 548 giant pandas in captivity globally as of November. The World Wildlife Fund said that the number of pandas living in the wild decreased to fewer than 2, 000. China lends its pandas to other countries as a symbol of close relations.

Currently, the country has pandas on loan to 26 zoos in 18 countries. Recently, two pandas joined the zoo in Ähtäri, Finland. The Copenhagen Zoo in Denmark also received two pandas in April.

The lending is part of the captive breeding program of the government that is aimed at saving the species from extinction. The country allocated a piece of land, the size of Yellowstone National Park, in 2018 to link up existing wild pandas and encourage the breeding of the furry animals.

Xinhua reported that at least 10 billion yuan was invested to prepare the Giant Panda National Park in mountainous southwestern China.

The conservation effort of the government improved the status of the animals from "endangered" to "vulnerable" in 21. According to records, there are still just 500 to 1,000 adult pandas left in the wild living in the isolated mountain ranges on south-central China.

Panda's zoo births remained low. According to Bill McShea, the "panda guy" in the Smithsonian Institute, the animals have fewer problems in mating and breeding in the wild. He said that in the wild, aggregations of male pandas form along ridge tops in the spring, and a stream of visiting females in heat keeps the mating activity intense.