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A rare all-white panda has been captured on cameras in the Wolong National Nature Reserve in southwest China's Sichuan Province, the reserve management authorities said on Saturday.
"Judging from pictures, the panda is an albino, one to two years old," said Li Sheng, a researcher with Peking University and a specialist in bears, who studied the pictures.
Albinism exists in different vertebrate species. The albino mutation inhibits melanin synthesis in animal's body. Albino usually does not affect animal's physical makeup and functions. It could make them easier to be discovered and more sensitive to direct sunlight, said Li.
The albino mutation is a recessive gene. Only when the parent pandas both carry such gene, can the baby show the albino traits.
If this white panda would mate with a normal panda, their first generation babies will still be black and white. But their babies, carrying the albino gene, will possibly give birth to all-white pandas if their partners also carry such genes, Li said.
In order to better protect the ecosystems, the Wolong nature reserve has been using infrared cameras to monitor the distribution and activities of wild animals in its seven demonstration areas.
Previously, some rare brown giant pandas were found in China's Qinling Mountains. The cause of the brown fur color was also considered as genetic mutation by some researchers. (source: China Plus)