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Look: Rare Albino White Panda Spotted In Sichuan, China

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Pandas are commonly known for their furry black-and-white markings, so a sighting of an all-white panda with red eyes trudging through a bamboo forest in China is enough to stun experts.

This wild Giant Panda (Ailuropoda Melanoleuca) is said to be the first known albino of its kind. With fewer than 2,000 giant Pandas left in the wild, the all-white cub with reddish eyes is a cause for celebration. Captured by an infrared motion-triggered camera (a device showing the differences in heat through images) set up to monitor the wildlife last December.

The Wolong National nature reserve in the South-Western province of Sichuan who released the photo taken last April is a vast protected area that homes China’s first giant panda breeding and research center. Wolong officials who announced the discovery of the white Panda bear on May 25, 2019, also stated that the unrehearsed photo shoot occurred in a densely-forested area about 6,500 feet (2,000 meters) above sea level. At that time, the Albino Panda was wandering in a bamboo forest, probably searching for food to eat.

Officials also assessed the mammal’s age, which is between one-two years old. The sex, however, could not be determined as it is hard to define from a grainy photo.

Scientists later determined the animal’s outside appearance; its all-white body and reddish eyes caused by ‘albinism.‘ It is a rare genetic condition in which there is a total or partial lack of the skin pigment melanin, said The Guardian.

Albinism, as experts indicated, makes it hard for animals to hide from predators. The University of California in 2017 conducted a research and found out that the giant panda’s distinct black and white coloring allows it to blend with the snow during winter or to hide in the shade during summer. The black circles around the Pandas’ eyes help them recognize each other, which is one of the factors in developing a mutual relationship with others.

Fortunately, the all-white cuddly panda seems to be unaffected by the lack of markings. Li Sheng, an assistant professor in conservation biology at Peking University who specializes in bears, said that the “panda looked healthy, and his steps were steady, a sign that the genetic mutation may not have entirely impeded its life.”

Other Albino animals have been spotted in recent years which includes: an inbred gorilla, a three-year-old Risso’s dolphin off the coast of California, and a zebra at a sanctuary in Hawaii. However, spotting the Albino Panda is exceptionally rare since there’s only two percent of probability that Albinism will manifest in Panda species. The giant panda, which is native to China, are unique species of bear with fewer than 2,000 remaining in the wild.

However, this is not the first time a panda bear is spotted with a unique color. The Qinling mountain range in China’s Southern Shaanxi province is believed to home all brown Pandas. Among them is Qi Zai, (a product of gene mutation) is an adorable nine-year-old brown bear who was found lurking in the wild. He was abandoned when he was only two months old, and officials who found him and nursed him back to health at the Shaanxi Rare Wildlife Rescue Center. After Qi Zai recovered his health, he was brought to Foping Panda National Nature Reserve where he resided for three years.

Officials believe that Pandas with rare coloring is a product of recessive mutation. One example is Albinism mutation; a recessive mutation, which means that it can only be inherited if both parents carry the gene. With few specimens of panda bears left in the world, the odds of that happening are almost impossible. And scientists feared that with the growing concern on climate change where the habitat of these cute mammals is at risk and may be damaged, the Panda Bear population would likely to suffer. If this happens, people can no longer witness any unique Pandas with rare coloring.

For further research, authorities said that the reserve would install more infrared cameras to track the Albino panda and its development in the wild. Seeing an all-white panda is proof that there are things which humans and technologies have not yet discovered, said Wolong officials. So far, scientists are also positive to see an offspring or two that will add to the diminishing panda bear population and provide them insights into Qi Zai’s and white-panda unique coloring.

I've been contributing news since 2010, both online and print. Aside from Z6Mag, I manage independent news blogs that provide awareness on a diverse list of topics to every reader.

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Wave Spell Music Festival Returning to Belden, California

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 The small town of Belden, in Northern California, will host the Wave Spell music and arts festival later this month for the second year in a row.  The annual festival is held and curated by the veteran electro-jam group, Sound Tribe Sector 9, or STS9 to those familiar.   The festival begins on August 15th.

Sound Tribe, originally known as simply “Sector 9”, began their career around Atlanta in 1999 and is now based out of Santa Cruz, California, although they spend a significant amount of time on the road as one of the top touring acts in the game.

The Wave Spell festival is now in its second year, both being held in Belden-a small town on California’s Feather River with a population of only 22 people (as of 2010). With the inaugural year being a success by consensus of fans and insiders alike, there was much anticipation and delight among STS9 constituents with the announcement of another year in Belden.  Fans especially found great excitement at the idea of returning to the banks of the Feather River for Wave Spell.

In hosting the event, Sound Tribe Sector 9 will offer their own unique sound as the headlining entertainment and backbone of the weekend.  Just as they did last year, the band will play 9 sets of original music over three nights in Belden.  Among these performances, three sets will consist of completely improvised music by STS9, dubbed the “Wave Spell Sets”.  This format mimics the first year and is the festival’s namesake. 

Last year, Sound Tribe introduced the concept of their Wave Spell Sets and eventually brought them to the stage, getting an extremely enthusiastic response from their devoted fan base.  The band has presented only a handful of these improvisational performances, both at the festival and on the road, adding to the allure for their followers.

While STS9 is the main attraction in Belden, Wave Spell also boasts a heady lineup of other musical acts, as well as visual artists for festival attendees to enjoy.  Live music is promised until at least 5 A.M. every morning of the event, and early morning performances are known as “sunrise sets” suggest that music will go deep into the day.  As it did last year, the festival will also feature installations from painters as well as live painting during musical performances.  A new addition to the festival this year even offers a display of geological specimens billed as “Crystals by Isometrica”. 

The very small town of Belden, California plays host to several festivals a year.  These events take up the entirety of the town, which consists of only a few homes, a hotel/lodge, a few cabins, and a beach along the river.  The scenic grounds offer camping space for the 1,200 or so festival-goers as well as limited space for RV’s.  For a VIP experience, and at a VIP price, fans can also rent one of the cabins for the weekend or get one of the few rooms in the lodge.  The lodge is also home to a diner-style restaurant and a small convenience store where attendees can purchase supplies. 

The beach in Belden offers not only a beautiful space to relax on the river, but during the Wave Spell festival, it also provides the Beach Stage, where fans can enjoy live music throughout the day.  The beach stage is also the site for the fan-favorite “Sunrise Sets”, starting shortly before dawn and going on through the sunrise and into early morning daylight. 

Last year, in the festivals first year, the Beach Stage quickly became a favorite spot for STS9 fans, who loaded up the area of the Feather River directly in front of the stage with giant inflatable lounge apparatuses shaped like unicorns, ducks, and even a slice of pizza.  The river quickly became a large cluster of floaties, all of which were responsibly retrieved at the end of the weekend by the environmentally conscious crowd. 

The lineup for the second year of Wave Spell is almost entirely fresh.  Aside from STS9, only a few of the groups performing are returning from last year.  Among the veterans of the festival coming back is the Portland, Oregon electronic trio, Yak Attack, who were standouts at the first Wave Spell.  For the most part, however, festival-goers will experience a brand new roster of acts. 

For electronic music fans, Wave Spell submits an exciting schedule of artists and groups.  Amid the lineup of live electronic performers, a legend of the genre promises to be one of the most anticipated sets of the weekend.  DJ Mark Farina will take the stage in Belden to provide the crowd with his now iconic style of sound, dubbed by Farina as “Mushroom Jazz”.  Farina and his Mushroom Jazz have become synonymous and his sound has held the attention of the electronic music world for nearly three decades, dating back to his first Mushroom Jazz compilation in 1992. 

Over on the Beach Stage, early morning sunrise sets have become a popular fixture in the electronic music festival scene.  Often specially assembled to go along with the experience of watching the sun come up in the morning, these sunrise sets have become a favorite among fans. 

A new addition to the Wave Spell lineup this year almost seems to specialize in this type of first thing in the morning/end of the night performances.  Hailing from the San Francisco underground, Random Rab has seemingly perfected the art of the sunrise set.  A Burning Man legend in his own right, Rab seems to fully understand the important mix of laid back and beautiful along with intense and spiritual that makes for a fantastic sunrise set.  His early morning performances have become one of the most sought after in the game. 

Also returning to Wave Spell this year, diehard STS9 fans are particularly excited for solo performances from members of the headlining band.  On the festival schedule for the weekend are special solo sets from David Phipps (Keyboard/Piano) and Zach Velmer (Drums), of Sound Tribe Sector 9.  Along with Phipps and Velmer, STS9 bassist, Alana Rocklin also has something special in store for fans.  Rocklin’s previous band, Sub ID, will be reuniting for a set at Wave Spell.  This will be only the second Sub ID performance since Rocklin joined STS9 in 2014.

Wave Spell Live music festival will be held August 15-18, 2019 in Belden, California.  Tickets can be purchased at:

https://www.ticketfly.com/purchase/event/1836953

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All You Need To Know About The #AgeChallenge Meme

The new meme is taking over social media and allows you to see what your 40 or 50-years-old self look like.

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Photo: Charlene Mcbride | Flickr.com | CC BY 2.0
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A new meme challenge is making rounds on the Internet. Faceapp, an artificial intelligence-based photo app that edits your selfies to show how you look like when you’ve aged, is starting the #AgeChallenge trend.

Also known as the #FaceAppChallenge, the meme uses AI to augment a portrait photo to look old. Also, users can choose between the app’s templates to quickly edit a photo. Are they not smiling in a photo? You can select the Smile template to add a smile across their face. Users can also choose a different hairstyle or make themselves look younger using the app.

FaceApp does not require users to use their camera to take a selfie before using the filters. Users can upload pictures of other people then apply the filter of your choice.

In Twitter, netizens are having quite the fun in uploading pictures using the Age filter. Users trade pictures of how each other will look like in 40-50 years.

Pictures of celebrities like Tom Holland, Jennifer Aniston, and the cast of the Harry Potter film franchise are also making rounds on Twitter. Fans are ecstatic to see their favorite actors and actresses age beautifully.

Athletes such as Dwayne Wade and Kevin Love are also joining in, posting a picture of themselves on Instagram and Twitter. An England soccer team named Tottenham Hotspurs posted photos of their team members using the age filter in their official account.

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🤔🤷🏾‍♂️ Grandpa Wade huh

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FaceApp was initially released on iOS and Android last January and February 2017, respectively. The app is free to download but has options for in-app purchases.

Because of the meme challenge, FaceApp has since top the charts for ‘Most Downloaded’ in the App Store this week.

This year, SnapChat also released new filters that change a photo’s gender. A person could view what he or she looks like if he or she was born of the opposite gender using the app’s Female and Male filters. It also has one that turns a person’s face into a baby version of themselves.

Issues on Privacy

However, questions on the app’s privacy security are now being raised, as the app’s popularity started to rise.

Speculations on the app extracting photos directly from the user’s phone without extra permissions started when Joshua Nozzi, a software developer based in the US, posted his speculations on Twitter.

The developer based in Virginia claims that it seems that the app was uploading all of his photos when the app started listing all of his pictures one row at a time. The instance resembled a network delay, which Nozzi took for the app getting access to his camera phone storage.

Because he was alarmed, Nozzi turned on his Airplane mode and realized that the app doesn’t let him proceed without an internet connection.

After Nozzi posted his claims last Monday, cybersecurity experts like Will Strafach and Baptiste Robert tested the app and refuted Nozzi’s claims.

Strafach shared in his Twitter that the FaceApp does not upload a user’s full camera roll to remote servers. However, he does mention that when a user selects a photo to apply the filter, the picture is uploaded in the app’s server so that the filters can be used.

Robert also called out Noozi for his claims without sharing any pieces of evidence. Robert looked at the traffic when using the app. Similar to Strafach’s findings; the app does upload your selected photo from your phone. He emphasized that the app only uploads “one photo” in their server.

Aside from calling out Noozi, Robert also reminded the public and the media to verify their claims to avoid spreading panic based solely on speculations.

Another concern raised against the app is its vague Terms and Conditions. However, Robert also mentioned that the FaceApp’s Terms and Conditions are not different from the other apps in one’s phone. He asked the public to check out Snapchat’s Terms and Conditions if they are concerned.

FaceApp’s developer company is based in Russia. Twitter users also submitted questions to Robert if that is a factor for possible concern. The French cybersecurity researcher stated that there’s no need to worry because there are a lot of legitimate developers in Russia. “I don’t see why the nationality of the developers is an issue,” he writes in a tweet.

Further reports from Forbes verify that the photos are uploaded in servers in America, not Russia as speculated by some.

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Look: France’s ‘Cat-Fox’ — The New Unidentified Specie

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Recently, the team from France’s National Hunting and Wildlife Office (ONCFS) released the news of a formerly unknown species of wildcat called the Cat-Fox or “chat-renard” in French. At first, it was only believed to be part of the French Island of Corsica’ local legend as ghjattuvolpe, a nocturnal beast which attacks sheep and goats.

During an interview with AFP, the ONCFS chief environmental technician Pierre Benedetti stated that “We believe that it’s a wild natural species which was known but not scientifically identified because it’s an extremely inconspicuous animal with nocturnal habits,” Benedetti has been studying the species for more than ten years already.

How is it different from our pet cats?

These cats have black ringed tails that are fox-like, “highly developed” canine teeth, “very wide” ears, short whiskers. And they are bigger. Cat foxes can grow up to 90 centimeters (35 inches) from head to tail-tip, while normal cats usually grow up only to 76 centimeters. They are nocturnal (active/awake at night). Also, they have stripes on their front legs, “very-dark” hind legs and a russet-colored stomach. Their silky and thick coat is designed to repel ticks, fleas, and lice naturally.

Why is it called Cat fox?

It’s not a type of fox, neither, is it a combination of a cat and a fox. But it is believed to be a wild cat. “It’s their size and their tail that earned them the name ‘cat-fox’ across the island,” says Benedetti. Some experts stated that its ears and tail resemble a fox, but its fur and facial characteristics are somehow similar to a typical cat.

Its existence was first popularly known last 2008 when a single cat-fox was caught by accident in a hen house at Olcani in Cap Corse.

Last 2012, to get and determine the golden stripped creature’s DNA, the team created traps with wooden sticks that have an irresistible smell to cats. As a result, they were able to get its fur, when the cats rubbed their bodies against the sticks.

After some analysis, they discovered through its DNA, that it is somehow related (but can be differentiated) from the European wildcat, Felis silvestris. It’s closely related to the African forest cat, F. silvestris lybica. However, it’s “exact identity is still to be determined,” Benedetti added.

The first cat was captured in 2016 using modernized photographic traps. Afterward, the team was able to catch 12 of the 16 total cats that they’ve seen using non-violent methods.

According to an ONCFS field agent, Carlu-Antone Cecchini, the cats were found in a location where “water and plant cover offering protection against its main predator, the golden eagle.” After examining and tagging the cats with electronic chips to track their adventures, the ONCFS releases them to the wild unharmed. One of the cats they’ve captured is a male cat with a one golden and one brown eye — a result of a cat fight.

The cat-fox may turn out like the mysterious wolf-like dog found in Montana last May 2018. It was revealed that it’s just an old type of wolf.

Today, it is still uncertain whether the cat-fox is new species or an old species that hasn’t been formally recognized. But some people argue that this may be a new species which is a combination of two types of species (species hybridisation). This hybridization is possible since a new bird species was discovered in the Galapagos.

The answer behind the lineage of these cats is one of the mysteries that are yet to be known. It’s diet, and ways of reproduction, are however to be discovered and learned in the future. Also, Benedetti has a theory that these cats may have been living on the French island of Corsica since 6,500 years BC.

He added that farmers might have brought these cats in the island. Meanwhile, Scientists believe that the cat could have originated from Africa or the Middle East.

According to CNN, the wildlife rangers from ONCFS expect that by catching, studying and tagging the cat foxes, they can somehow help these cute furry friends to be known and protected shortly, hopefully in two to four years.

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