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Out of the Ordinary

Red panda's escape attempt failed

Cynthia Martin

Rusty, the National Zoo's newest red panda, made a daring daytime escape Monday morning

The National Zoo ends their panda hunt with a successful capture

A red panda escaped from the National Zoo in Washington D.C. on Monday. And it’s been found, alive and well.

Rusty, the zoo’s newest addition to their red panda family, got three-fourths of a mile from the zoo before being found. He is said to be eating well and having regular bowel movements.

“One of our concerns was, did he eat anything funky?” said Pamela Baker-Masson, a spokeswoman for the zoo. “We care a lot about poop around here, with good reason.”

Rusty’s keepers discovered that the red panda was missing around 7:30 a.m. Monday morning. The last time they saw him was 6 a.m. So the almost 1-year-old panda had about an hour and a half to make his escape.

Rusty was captured around 2 p.m. Monday after an Adams Morgan resident tweeted photos of the red panda and called zoo officials.

But the zoo is still pondering how the red panda got out.

“We have to do a thorough assessment of his enclosure,” Baker-Masson said. “We would really like to figure out how he got out. There is no obvious escape route.”

They checked the security footage to see if anyone helped Rusty out of his enclosure. But the camera doesn’t directly face the red panda exhibit. Several tree branches have been cut back, since they might have been party to Rusty’s disappearance.

Rusty has only been on exhibit for a few weeks. His mate, Shama, remains on exhibit while Rusty gets checked out at the zoo’s hospital.

The last time the National Zoo lost an animal was in 1983 when a teenager stole two viper snakes. One of the two bit him. Luckily, the red panda isn’t venomous, and no one or thing appears to have been harmed in the making of this escape.

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