Qinling panda (captive bear Qi Zai) (Ailuropoda melanoleuca qinlingensis) (AilieHM – CC BY-SA 4.0)

The Qinling panda (Ailuropoda melanoleuca qinlingensis) is a subspecies of the giant panda, discovered in the 1960s but not recognized as a subspecies until 2005.  Other than the nominate subspecies (Ailuropoda melanoleuca melanoleuca) it is the first giant panda subspecies to be recognised. It has a smaller skull than melanoleuca melanoleuca and its fur is dark brown and light brown rather than black and white.  It is also smaller.

There are estimated to be only between 200 and 300 Qinling pandas living in the wild.  They are found only in the Qinling Mountains, at altitudes of 4,000 to 10,000 feet (1,300 to 3,300 metres).

The type of habitat, diet and behaviour of these bears appears identical to the giant panda.


“The Giant Pandas of the Qinling Mountains, China: a Case Study”  Report can be read online or as a PDF available for download.

“Mystery of the brown giant panda deepens” in Nature magazine.

Page updated 03 March 2021