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Albino Wildlife in Shennongjia Puxxles Zoologists
Xinhua News Agency, March 9, 1998

A growing number of albino animals have been observed in Shennongjia nature reserve in central China, puzzling zoologists about the cause. In the dense forest, people have reported seeing bears, snakes and river deer with white skin or fur. Witnesses said they have even seen white crows. Zoologists confirmed that wildlife workers have seen and captured a white snake, a white turtle and white river deer during two major field surveys in the region between the late 1970s and mid 1980s. Explorer Zhang Jinxing also said he encountered albino animals when he stayed in Shennongjia forest areas conducting field research for three years in the early 1990s.

Tang Mingliang, professor of the school of biology at Wuhan University, said no significant differences have been observed in the habits and characteristics between these albino animals and their peers. The white snakes, for example, are often seen in the company of green ones at brookside in the deep mountains. The white bear is an omnivorous animal like the brown bear and has similar habits such as licking its paws, according to Tang, who has visited Shennongjia a dozen times. He said so far Chinese zoologists have no convincing explanations for the phenomenon. He said it might be due to special geographic position of Shennongjia Mountain where some wildlife have survived since the fourth glacier period. Another possibility is that it is a sort of atavism, or throwback to an earlier time, Tang said.