Once ostracized and neglected, Qizai, the unique brown giant panda, has defied the odds to become a shining celebrity in the global animal kingdom.
Qizai’s life proves that pandas aren’t merely black and white; there’s room for captivating shades of brown, too.
Qizai resides in Shaanxi’s Foping Panda Valley and is believed to be the only living panda in the world to wear a distinctive coat of white and brown.
As Qizai steps into his seventh year, Chinese experts prepare to mate him to uncover the mystery behind his exceptional fur color.
Qizai, whose name translates to ‘the seventh son,’ is cared for by He Xin, a 26-year-old from Foping.
He Xin has spent the last two years nurturing Qizai, following the panda’s previous stay at the Shaanxi Rare Wildlife Rescue. Devoting up to 18 hours daily to his care, He Xin ensures Qizai is well-fed and sleeps comfortably.
Qizai’s caretaker paints a picture of a gentle, funny, and heartwarming creature, albeit one that’s a little slow on the uptake.
He Xin fondly shares that while other pandas would quickly react to their names, Qizai takes a bit longer to understand that he’s being called.
During Qizai’s cub years, he faced bullying from his peers, who would snatch away his bamboo.
However, now in adulthood and living in a separate enclosure, Qizai enjoys a diet of bamboo, milk, and Chinese flour buns, feeding four to five times daily.
The popular bear, weighing over 100 kilograms (220 pounds), can consume approximately 20 kilograms (44 pounds) of bamboo daily.
As Qizai ages, mating plans are in the pipeline. Experts hope observing and studying his offspring might bring them closer to understanding the unique fur color of Qizai, whose mother was a traditional black and white panda.
He Xin suspects Qizai’s unusual coat may be due to a gene mutation. He notes that pandas from Shaanxi have a different appearance than their counterparts in Sichuan, considered the ancestral home of giant pandas.
Qizai’s journey started when researchers found him frail and motherless as a two-month-old cub in the Qinling Mountains.
For his safety, he was relocated to the Shaanxi Rare Wildlife Rescue, where he received medical attention and a healthy diet of panda milk.
Today, Qizai is an awe-inspiring sight, a testament to the power of resilience and uniqueness in nature.
According to World Wildlife, there are 1,864 wild pandas worldwide, primarily residing in China’s southwest bamboo forests.
Qizai’s home province, Shaanxi, also hosts some magnificent creatures. Recently, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) updated the giant panda’s status from ‘endangered’ to ‘vulnerable,’ reflecting their increasing population in China’s wild.