A Red Panda has went missing from the Smithsonian National Zoo, a spokeswoman said Monday. Zoo officials have been searching the grounds for him.
“We have been searching all morning. It is most likely that he has not really left the vicinity. He would have to have some very strong motivation to leave the area.” zoo spokeswoman Pamela Baker-Masson told the Washington Post.
We are looking for a missing red panda, a male named Rusty. He was last seen at 6 p.m. last night. pic.twitter.com/JHVB79x8XY
— National Zoo (@NationalZoo) June 24, 2013
Rusty, a red panda about the size of a Raccoon, who made his public debut at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo in early June and is less than a year old, was not seen in his enclosure at 7:30 a.m. Monday, and the zoo sounded a “Code Green” alert for an escaped animal at 8 a.m.
Baker-Masson said Rusty might have managed to get out of his enclosure and is just hiding on the zoo grounds.
The red panda originally came from the Lincoln Children’s Zoo in Nebraska and was brought to the zoo in May. He was kept in a 30-day quarantine until June, when he was finally released into the exhibit to meet Shama, his mate.
“This animal is not dangerous to any human,” Baker-Masson said. “He is vaccinated.” He was last seen Sunday night at 6 and is said to be friendly and mild-mannered.
She added that he might have escaped, is sick, or has died somewhere on the grounds. Or there is also the possibility that he was stolen. “We have to think of everything,” she said.
The zoo asked that if visitors spot Rusty they should not approach him and tell an official or call the zoo at 202-633-4888.
The red panda can be distinguished by reddish fur, white-tinted areas around the face and tail and an affinity for climbing trees.
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