Beijing: A rare panda, which is the world’s only completely brown giant panda, has survived minus 30 degree Celsius temperature this winter and emerged unscathed in China’s western remote Qinling Mountains.
Qi Zai, the six-year-old male, is the world’s only completely brown panda, found among a colony of pandas with some brown in their coats.
He has been kept in the Wild Panda Training Base in Shaanxi Province’s Foping Nature Reserve for two years.
Staff initially fed Qi artificially, but have left him to fend for himself this winter.
The Qinling giant panda is a subspecies of giant panda that was recognised in 2005. It has a smaller and rounder skull, shorter snout and less fur than the more familiar Sichuan subspecies.
The world’s first brown panda was discovered in 1985 in the Qinling Mountains. Since then, there have been eight brown pandas found, but Qi is the last remaining alive.
Weighing about 105 kgs, Qi remained energetic and ate 50 kgs of bamboo a day during the winter, his keepers said.
They are preparing to allow him to mate with a black panda when he is more sexually mature, which may help to figure out the genetic mystery behind his brown fur.
Only 1,864 giant pandas live in the wild, mostly in the Chinese provinces of Sichuan and Shaanxi.
The average life span of a giant panda is 25 years.
Looked upon as the ambassador for all endangered species, giant panda is a well—recognised symbol of international wildlife conservation.
The giant panda is currently threatened by continued habitat loss, human persecution, among others. Its dietary specialisation, habitat isolation and reproductive constraints have led to a perception that this is a species at an “evolutionary dead end”, destined for deterministic extinction in the modern world.