Monday, Jun. 24, 2013

Rusty the Red Panda, Washington, D.C.

They're known for mostly lazing about during the day, their fur-covered bodies stretched over tree limbs. But one panda at the National Zoo in Washington, D.C., wasn't spotted in his normal habitat Monday morning. So the Zoo took to Twitter to recruit the public's help. Accompanying a photo of the small woodland creature were the vitals: "a missing red panda, a male named Rusty. He was last seen at 6 p.m. last night."

Zookeepers wouldn't reveal just how the panda escaped — or if it even left the premises. The @NationalZoo Twitter account kept loyal red panda watchers up-to-date on the search for Rusty. As word of the search quickly spread, D.C. residents vigilantly looked out for the adorable animal, which resembles a cross between a bear and a raccoon. In the early afternoon a photo of Rusty scampering through a residential neighborhood was posted on Twitter — given the rarity of red pandas, it was very likely Rusty. Within the hour, animal control teams had captured him and put him in a crate, promptly herding him back to the zoo.

The red panda has little in common with its giant black-and-white cousins aside from a common Chinese heritage. But Rusty hails from Nebraska, arriving in D.C. two months ago. His impromptu tour of his new city has come to a safe end.