Can You Find the Animal Hidden Within This Dizzying Optical Illusion?

Ilja Klemencov (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0)

Ready to stare at your computer screen for far too long? We sure did, thanks to Russian artist Ilja Klemencov. He created an optical illusion of black and white zig-zag lines, where only about 1% of people can spot a hidden object with in it at first place.

At least it’s for a good reason, though. The photo, titled “They Can Disappear,” represents an important message about wildlife conservation.

Take a look at the photo below and see if you can spot the panda bear, or the logo of the World Wildlife Fund for Nature (WWF).

If you do spot it, it will look a bit out of focus, almost as if it could disappear if you blinked your eyes for just a second.

The reason? The optical illusion was created to spread awareness about the extinction of the panda bear, of which there are only about 1,800 left in the world. Klemencov’s photo is meant to represent the notion about just how quickly the species is dwindling—that’s why the panda bear is coming in rather ghostly once you do spot it.

But how come only so few people can actually see the panda? It’s all thanks to the McCollough effect. Discovered and created by Celeste McCollough in 1965, the McCollough effect comes from staring at a two-color grid for a few minutes, focusing the eye in a way that tricks it into seeing different colors to form a shape.

The photo is so iconic that it took out first prize in the 2010 World Student Poster Biennale, an international competition held in Serbia. It also won prizes at the Taiwan International Design Competition and COW International Design Festival, and held a poster exhibition in Finland in 2014.

Ready to try again, if you didn’t spot the panda initially ? Go ahead, take another shot and try and spot the WWF panda below!

See it yet? Know that at glance, it’ll probably be hard to spot. But if you’re having trouble, take a step back and maybe even take your glasses off if you wear them, which can help. Once you see it, you probably won’t be able to unsee it…or stop thinking about how few panda bears are left in the world!

Were you able to see the panda bear in the photo at first glance, or did it take you a few tries? What do you think about the meaning behind this optical illusion?