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.
Panda that proves nature’s not always black and white: Extremely rare brown bear’s colour linked to unique conditions in Chinese mountains where they are found.
There have only been five sightings of brown-white pandas since 1985. Same size, weight and habits as pandas with usual black and white fur. Experts say brown colour could be result of unique geographical and climatic conditions.
When it comes to pandas, you probably thought things were strictly black and white. But meet Qi Lai, an extremely rare brown and white panda whose colourful appearance has left scientists scratching their heads.
While every bit as a cute as others of his species, he is a very special bear because there have only been five sightings of brown-white pandas since 1985.
Now aged five, he was found as a two-month-old cub, weak and alone, by researchers in a nature reserve in Qinling Mountains in China after his mother had apparently disappeared into the jungle.
For his own safety, they took him to the nearby Shaanxi Rare Wildlife Rescue, Breeding and Research Centre where he was given medical treatment and fed on panda milk saved by the centre’s staff from other pandas. He has since grown into the fine, eye-catching specimen he is today.
These photographs were taken by Katherine Feng, an American vet and member of the International League of Conservation Photographers, who was delivering veterinary supplies to the centre donated by the US charity Pandas International. She was granted special permission to photograph him during the recent visit. She said: ‘Brown and white pandas have only been seen in the Qinling Mountains. The Qinling Mountain pandas are considered a different sub-species from those found in other mountain ranges.
‘It is suspected that the brown and white colouring of pandas has a genetic basis, possible a result of a double recessive gene, a combination of genes or a dilution factor gene. Qi Zai’s mother was black and white.’
Qi Lai - who is also known as ‘seventh son’ by staff at the centre - is the same size and weight and has the same habits as other pandas with the usual black and white fur.
Scientists at the centre say further studies are necessary to unravel the mystery of why the brown and white pandas occur.
The panda population in the Qinling Mountains is small and isolated with an estimated figure of between 200 and 300.
Some experts at the centre have suggested that the brown fur could also have some links with the area’s unique geographical and climatic conditions, saying the soil and water in the area might influence the hair pigments of the pandas.
Qinlingosaurus was a sauropod found in the Hongtuling Formation, Qinling Mountain Range, Shaanxi Province, China. It lived in maybe the Maastrichtian age of the Late Cretaceous, between 72 and 66 million years ago. Its only known from limited remains and thus can only be classified as some sort of sauropod, however, it is probably more derived than Eusauropoda, as that would be one hell of a ghost lineage.