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White Animals Resembling Polar Bears Spotted in Tibet

[WTN-L World Tibet Network News. Published by The Canada Tibet Committee. Issue ID: 2003/08/02; August 2, 2003.]

PTI - Saturday, August 02, 2003.

Beijing, August 2 - White animals appearing identical to Polar bears have been spotted by local people in Tibet, a media report said on Saturday. The sightings, reported in several remote counties of the Himalayan region, could be of great significance to the study of the evolution of species in Tibet, Xinhua news agency quoted experts as saying.

Puce, an old herdsman from Qomo village of Gerze county of Ngari prefecture, was full of excitement when recalling his encounter recently with the mysterious animal.

"I was herding the sheep when suddenly I saw a white creature in the distance and thought it might be a snow leopard," said Puce.

"After a careful study, I found it was a big white bear quite identical to Polar bears as we have seen in the films," Puce told Xinhua news agency. White bears have also been found roaming in Gyaca county of Nyingchi prefecture.

Liu Wulin, a specialist with the Regional Association for Wildlife Protection, said from evidence he has collected so far, the white bears many local residents have seen are not Polar bears but a kind of Albino bear.

"The white bears are from the same species as brown bears. But because of genetic defects and malnutrition, they cannot absorb melanin and appear quite differently from brown bears," Liu explained.

Due to great variations in the furs of brown bears in Tibet, some brown bears appear to be greyish white and brownish black striped, so in some cases, people wrongly jump to the conclusion that they are giant pandas, Liu said.


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