Endangered "Magic Rabbit" caught on camera in China after 20 years

The endangered Ili pika ("Magic Rabbit"), a small rabbit with mouse-like ears, has been caught on camera in China for the first time in two decades. The images were published by National Geographic last week, giving a glimpse at the decidedly adorable little mammal as it perched on rocks in the Tianshan Mountains in China. The mammal is commonly described as resembling a teddy bear, due to its rounded ears, and it was first discovered back in 1983 entirely by accident.

The pika has scarcely been seen by humans since its discovery in '83, at least as far as recorded history goes, with there only being 29 of the little animals spotted during that time frame. Not much is known about the creatures due to their scarce appearances, but that could be changing in the future.

Last summer, researchers spotted the long-lost mammal again after more than two decades, having gone out on a trek specifically to locate the pika. The task was undertaken by the original discoverer, Weidong Li, as well as volunteers who eventually found one. The animal is said to have poked out of a cliff face's gap, and a couple images were taken of it.

The original pika that was spotted was 8-inches long, and had gray fur with brown spots interspersed. Herdsmen were no more familiar with the mammal than Li, who had been sent by the Chinese government to study the region. A "specimen" was captured at the time and sent to the Chinese Academy of Sciences, where a scientist identified it as a new species.

SOURCE: National Geographic