He may not be black and white and red all over, but the adventure of Rusty the red panda on Monday certainly caused a stir.
The National Zoo announced Monday morning that Rusty was not in his exhibit and that they were searching the near area for his whereabouts. He had last been seen at 6 PM for feeding time in his exhibit. The Zoo posted details and directions for people if they found Rusty on their Twitter and Facebook page. They warned that when confronted or scared red pandas will bite and that all citizens should use caution if they find Rusty.
It was at 1:36 PM on Monday afternoon that the call came in from a citizen to the Washington Humane Society that Rusty had been spotted at an Adams Morgan residence. WHS Officer Peter Martel, part of Animal Care and Control, arrived to the scene first and began a rescue plan for the panda, which was idling in a tree. Smithsonian staffers soon joined Martel, and they lured Rusty down and out of the tree where he was then safely transferred to a crate and back to the Zoo.
The Zoo announced this morning via Twitter that Rusty is still in the vet hospital at the Zoo, where he is bright, alert and recovering from his adventure. It is still unclear how Rusty managed to escape his exhibit, as no trail was left behind. Zoo officials are looking into every aspect and theory of this escapade and Rusty will not return to his habitat on the Asia Trail until the case is closed.
The Zoo describes red pandas as arboreal and territorial animals, which explains why Rusty only traveled as far as the tree in Adams Morgan. Rusty has only been part of the Smithsonian Zoo family since June 10 of this year, and he will turn 1 year old this July.