A rare brown & white Qinling Panda took center stage recently at a panda rescue and research center in Xi'an, China.
Named “Qizai” by center staff, the strikingly colorful – not black & white, at least – adult panda fits right in with other pandas at the center in China's central Shaanxi province. It enjoys eating bamboo shoots like its more familiar cousins, for instance.
Scientifically, however, there are some small but notable differences that set this subspecies apart. Their skulls are slightly smaller, for one, and they don't usually grow as large as typical pandas.
The latter characteristic may be a result of their habitat: its estimated between 200 and 300 Qinling Pandas live in the Qinling Mountains, generally at elevations of 1,300 to 3,000 meters (roughly 4,300 to 9,800 ft) above sea level.
Though discovered in the mid-1960s, the Qinling Panda (Ailuropoda melanoleuca qinlingensis) was officially declared a distinct subspecies of the Giant Panda (Ailuropoda melanoleuca) in 2005.
Sources don't state how Qizai got to the research center in Xi'an or when he will return to the wild. At least he appears healthy (and well-fed) in these images from the Xinhua news agency and China Plus.