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article imageBrown-and-white giant panda found in China

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By Wang Fangqing     Nov 10, 2009 in World
Contrary to popular belief, a giant panda is not always in black-and-white. In fact, a brown-and-white panda baby was found in northwestern China a week ago, making it the fifth in the mysterious family so far.
The cub was found by Liang Qihui, an engineer at Foping Nature Reserve Administration in Shan'xi Province. The two-month-old bear has brown fur around its ears and arms where black fur is usually present.
"Its eyes haven't opened yet, but it could sense me when I came near it," Liang told the news agency Xinhua.
The baby and its mother, who is a normal black-and-white panda, are now living in the reserve.
This is the fifth time Chinese officials have observed pandas in such a rare color. The first one called "Dandan" was spotted in 1985. It was also found in Foping. She later gave birth to three normal pandas but none of them survived.
Researchers are still not sure what caused the change in color. Some say it's probably a variation of the usual color, while others believe the color is a recurrence of the original ancestor, or atavism.
No matter what color they are, giant pandas could disappear from the planet in two or three generations if they don't mate with those from other habitats, said Fan Zhiyong, Beijing-based species programme director for WWF.
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