Qizai, the world’s only known brown panda in captivity, has been adopted by a U.S.-based charity last week.
The male bear, aged 10 — equivalent to 30 human years — is said to possess his unique brown-and-white coat as a result of genetic anomaly.
Qizai the brown panda has become quite the internet celebrity… Watch him nibble on some carrot and explore his enclosure at Shaanxi’s Qinling Panda Research Center! pic.twitter.com/GglGoBgFe9
— China Xinhua News (@XHNews) July 20, 2019
Qizai was adopted by Pandas International, a Colorado-based nonprofit founded by Suzanne Braden and Diane Rees in 2000 committed to the conservation of pandas.
However, he will continue living in Qinling Giant Panda Research Center, located in Shaanxi province, northwestern China.
Rescued as a two-month-old cub, Qizai, whose name means “seventh son,” was first brought to the Shaanxi Rare Wildlife Rescue, Breeding and Research Center for feeding and medical treatment.
He was eventually attended by his current keeper, He Xin, who spends up to 18 hours a day taking care of him.
According to He, Qizai was “bullied” by his black-and-white peers, who took away and ate his bamboo when he was little.
“When I call out their names, the other black-and-white pandas would react and come to me quickly, but for Qizai, it usually takes some time for him to realize that,” He said in a 2016 interview.
Last year, Qizai made headlines when his caretakers prepared him for his first natural mating attempt.
He was paired with Zhuzhu, an “energetic” panda who has given birth to four healthy cubs at the time.
While the pair have shown interest toward each other, they failed to copulate after several attempts.
Without any other option, researchers decided to artificially inseminate Zhuzhu with Qizai’s sperm, but it did not work out and Zhuzhu received another insemination in March 2019 (which produced twins).
With Qizai’s adoption, Pandas International is granted access to him and will receive regular updates about his life.
The Chinese breeding center allowed the organization to adopt Qizai for life to thank them for helping in their daily work and donating vaccines, lab instruments, baby panda cribs and milk powder, according to Xinhua.
Only five brown-and-white pandas have been spotted since 1985, making them a rare part of a species already vulnerable in numbers.
There are currently 1,864 pandas living in the wild around the world, according to World Wildlife.
Images via Xinhua