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Red panda on the run from California zoo

By Ben Hooper
Red panda on the run from California zoo
Marsala, a young female red panda, escaped Thursday from the Sequoia Park Zoo in Eureka, Calif. Photo courtesy of the Sequoia Park Zoo

EUREKA, Calif., Nov. 20 (UPI) -- Authorities in a California city are on the hunt for an unusually adorable fugitive -- a red panda on the run from the Sequoia Park Zoo.

The zoo said a Eureka resident reported seeing a red panda wandering through their neighborhood on Thursday and zookeepers soon confirmed a young red panda named Marsala was missing from her enclosure.

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"We have no idea how she got over the fence," zoo manager Gretchen Ziegler told the North Coast Journal. "It's contained red pandas since it was built. Animals can do things you can't imagine. We're going to try to figure it out."

The zoo said Marsala does not pose a danger to the public, but the cat-sized creature -- native to western Asia -- could face a number of dangers in Eureka and the Sequoia Park forest.

"She's only been in the panda exhibit her whole life so she's pretty naive. We'll be searching all day and all night," Ziegler said.

The City of Eureka said police are searching for the animal.

A post on the city's official Facebook page reads:

"One of the Red Pandas at the Sequoia Park Zoo has escaped. The panda is NOT a danger to humans, but Zoo staff are concerned about the panda's safety. The panda has been seen in the forest behind the Zoo. City staff and EPD are looking for the Panda. If anyone from the public sees the Red Panda, please do not try to approach or capture. Notify staff at 499-3668 or EPD dispatch at 441-4044."

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The zoo said the last confirmed Marsala sighting was near a golf course at about 3 a.m. on Friday.

A red panda named Rusty escaped from the National Zoo in Washington in 2013. Rusty was found about a mile from the zoo after several hours on the loose.

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