Workers at a giant panda base in northwestern China’s Qinling Mountains have photographed Qizai, a rare brown-and-white panda, frolicking in the forest.
The 6-year-old panda was moved to the base at the end of 2014, and since then, it appears as though Qizai has adapted well.
The panda has reportedly gained 15 kilograms (approx. 66 pounds) in weight over the past year and currently weighs over 105 kilograms (approx. 231 pounds), experts from the base told China News Service.
The experts also said that they are planning to find a wife for Qizai, which may help in research related to the breeding of brown-and-white pandas.
According to the base, brow-and-white giant pandas have been discovered five times in China since the first one was spotted in Foping, Shaanxi Province, in 1985. Qizai, found in 2009, was the last one to be found.
World’s Last Brown Giant Panda Survives Harsh Winter
Remember Qi Zai, the world’s last known brown giant panda bear?
The six-year-old is the final of eight of the animals with the fur mutation to have been spotted since 1985.
But, with China have suffered its coldest winter for three decades, some had worried Qi Zai may not survive.
Qi Zai is believed to be the last brown giant panda in the world (CEN)
However, these stunning pictures show he is alive and well – and still adorable as ever.
Born in the bamboo forests of China’s north-western Shaanxi Province in 2009, Qi Zai was fostered by researchers for the past two years until he was left to put his body to the test against the chilly winter.
Qi Zai braved -30c conditions in China (CEN)
Having been living in Shaanxi’s Wild Panda Training Base in Foping National Nature Reserve, Qi Zai was fattened up before he faced temperatures of minus 30 degrees Celsius on his own.
Only eight brown giant panda bears have been spotted since 1985 (CEN)
Reports said he was fed 50 kilogrammes (110 lbs) of bamboo every day in order to ensure that he stored enough energy for the harsh winter ahead.
Researchers were then both happy and relieved to see that Qi Zai did eat enough to survive the cold months, with pictures of a still fat and furry panda showing him awaiting the arrival of springtime.
The bear has been living in Shaanxi’s Wild Panda Training Base in Foping National Nature Reserve (CEN)
Scientists are still unsure how the brown fur comes, and why brown giant pandas have only been spotted in the forests of Shaanxi’s Qinling Mountains so far.
The bear was fed bamboo to help him bulk up for the winter (CEN)
It has been suggested that environmental factors such as soil and water may be responsible for the rare mutation, as Qi Zai’s mother was a panda with the regular black and white fur.