Rare magic bunny photographed for first time in 20 years
I can’t say that I’m going to miss this week terribly. A building collapsed, more horrifying allegations surfaced about Bill Cosby, and not even the idyllic Tickle Creek was safe from the scourge of public masturbation. But before you give up on the world entirely, know that recently, high in the remote mountains of China, a rare animal called an ili pika was photographed for the first time in twenty years, and it is fucking adorable.
According to Yahoo News, many scientists have searched for the small, rabbit-like creature many times over the past two decades, but like a small, furry version of Sia, it’s stubbornly insisted on maintaining its privacy:
Although scientists know where to find the Ili pika, it’s still extremely hard to get on camera. For example, between 2002 and 2003 two researchers, Andrew Smith at Arizona State University and Li Wei-Dong at the Xinjiang Academy of Environmental Protection in Beijing, completed seven trips to twelve different sites to study population status of the animal. After 37 total days of attempted spottings, the two men came up completely empty handed.
Then, in the summer of 2014, a researcher named Weidong Li found the lil’ fella and snapped the picture you see here:
Last summer, the man who originally discovered the species in ’83, Weidong Li, had a chance encounter with the elusive creature. He and a group of researchers were out in the Tianshan Mountains for, what else, pika spotting, when around noon they saw one and snapped the iconic picture above.
It’s estimated there are fewer than 1,000 of them in the world today, making the ili tika–or “magic bunny,” as idiots prefer to call it–rarer than the giant panda. This is largely due to habitat destruction; Li estimates that their habitat has shrunk by 71% in the past 30 years.
The Internet being what it is, the fuzzy-faced fucker has now gone viral, which makes Li feel worried for the creature’s safety:
“Many people have written to me to say they want to help me protect the pikas,” he said. “But more attention also means more danger for them….We cannot let them disappear in front of our eyes.”
Don’t worry, Weidong Li. I’m sure Buzzfeed is cloning it in a lab as we speak.
[h/t Shanghaiist|Photo: Weidong Li]