Zoo workers noticed Rusty was missing from his enclosure at 8 a.m. Monday morning, and began the search. Although officials didn't rule out the possibility someone had taken him, they said he was most likely hiding in a tree.
Animal care staff have been combing the trees around the Zoo since 8 a.m. He could be sick & hiding, or someone could have taken him.— National Zoo (@NationalZoo) June 24, 2013
Red pandas typically spend the warm daytime hours resting, so it’s likely Rusty is somewhere in or near the Zoo hiding in a tree.— National Zoo (@NationalZoo) June 24, 2013
Red pandas are arboreal, territorial animals, so it would be unusual for Rusty to wander far from his home range, in his case his exhibit.— National Zoo (@NationalZoo) June 24, 2013
Local actress Ashley Foughty spotted the rogue red panda, tweeting a photo of him near condos in Adams Morgan, a neighborhood next to the zoo and about a mile away from his exhibit.
Rusty was found in a tree behind my house. Not a joke. cc: @NationalZoo— Sharon Yang (@SharonBYang) June 24, 2013
Zoo workers were then able to find Rusty and bring him home.
Rusty the red panda has been recovered, crated & is headed safely back to the National Zoo!— National Zoo (@NationalZoo) June 24, 2013
Thank you so much to everyone who helped us look for and find him!— National Zoo (@NationalZoo) June 24, 2013
Rusty, who will turn 1 in July, was released into the exhibit after a 30-day quarantine and introduction to Shama, the zoo's resident red panda female.
Red pandas are endangered, and only distantly related to their giant black and white cousins. The nocturnal creatures grow to between 7 and 14 pounds and are native to the mountains of Nepal, northern Myanmar and central China.