Brown is unique
Updated: 2013-10-16 01:46
By Ma Lie (China Daily)
Most giant pandas are black and white. But since 1985, the endangered animals with brown fur have been spotted five times. Scientists tell Ma Lie that further studies are necessary to unravel the mystery of such a rare type.
Qi Zai, at Shaanxi Rare Wildlife Rescue, Breeding and Research Center in Zhouzhi county, is the only captive white-brown giant panda in the world. Photo by Wang Lei / For China Daily
Some photos of a white-brown panda recently caused a stir among netizens. They were surprised that the rare and cute animal, which usually has a black-and-white coat, has a "colorful" variety.
The white and brown panda named Qi Zai is living in Shaanxi Rare Wildlife Rescue, Breeding and Research Center, located in the Qinling Mountains in Zhouzhi county in Shaanxi province.
The panda was found on Nov 1, 2009 in Shaanxi Foping National Nature Reserve, in Foping county. With a total area of 350 sq km in deep mountains, the reserve is home for many endangered animal species including giant panda, golden monkey and takin.
At noon on that eventful day, Liang Qihui, senior engineer of the reserve and his colleagues found the panda pup just after its mother went into the jungle. The little animal, with clumps of brown fur, was barely 2 months old and weighed about 2 kg, Liang recalls.
To better protect the rare panda type, the baby panda was sent to the center from the reserve.
According to Jin Xuelin, deputy director of the center, the baby panda was weak when it was sent to the center, and recovered later after getting proper medical treatment and taking some panda milk saved by the center staff from other pandas.
The center was established in 1996 focusing on the rescue, breeding and research of rare animals including giant panda, golden monkey and crested ibis, which are mainly found in the Qinling Mountains.
The size, weight and habits of Qi Zai are similar to other pandas, but it is the only captive white-brown panda in the world, Jin says.
Jin stresses the center would not take such a panda for research if it didn't need to be rescued.
"The existence of brown-fur panda is normal and plausible, excessive disturbance by our humans will disrupt its normal reproduction," Jin says.
This was not the first time such colorful pandas have been found. The panda research records show that such white-brown pandas have been documented five times.