Panda bears are not all alike. In the 1960’s, researchers found brown and white fur pandas in the remote Qinling Mountains but it wasn’t until 2005 that these pandas were recognized and named as a subspecies of the giant pandas.
Named the Qinling panda after the east-west mountain range they inhabit, scientists think the black instead of black fur patches on the bears could be the cause of environmental influence or recessive genes.
The brown panda is rare as only seven have been spotted in the Qinling region in the last 25 years. Qizai is the seventh brown panda bear and he’s being raised at the Foping Panda Valley in the Shaanxi province in China. Qizai which translates to “the seventh son,” is a happy and loving gentle animal who like other panda bears loves to feast on bamboo.
Not everyone is fond of Qizai’s brown fur. The seven-year-old was abandoned by his mom.
He has also been bullied by the black and white panda bears.
His keeper He Xin describes Qizai as “gentle, funny and adorable.”
Other pandas use to eat Qizai’s bamboo. “He is slower than the other pandas, but he is also cuter,” says He Xin.
Qizai’s daily diet includes about 22 pounds of bamboo, milk, and Chinese flour buns.
The giant bear weighs a healthy 220 pounds.
Since Qizai is seven-years-old now, it is expected that the process to start mating him will begin within the year.
Scientists hope that by studying Qizai’s offspring, they’ll be able to understand brown pandas better.
Brown fur pandas who have been in captivity in the past and later mated with black and white pandas have given birth to black and white pandas. This is part of the reason scientists believe the brown fur is a recessive gene.
Qizai’s personality and demeanour is different from the other bears as well.
“All the pandas here have names. When I call their names, the black and white pandas would react and come to me quickly, but for Qizai, it usually takes some time [for] him to realize,” explains He Xin.
Qizai may have been abandoned at two months old and bullied by others, but now he is a celebrity.
There are over 1,800 pandas in the wild today. Hunting, poaching, and forest destruction have led to the declining numbers.
Although, it is not clear just how many brown and white fur pandas are left.
Qizai’s caretaker begins his day at 6:00 am and does not go to bed till midnight, ensuring all the brown panda’s needs are met.