Red panda Rusty, who is fairly new to the Smithsonian National Zoo, escaped early this morning and caused an intensive search, which lasted until almost 2:30 today.
When Rusty wasn't found in his cage around 7:30 this morning, an alert was issued within the zoo and a search party formed. He eluded capture until this afternoon, when someone spotted him in a nearby neighborhood, snapped his picture, and alerted zoo officials.
“We have been searching all morning,” spokeswoman Pamela Baker-Masson had said earlier. “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.”
The adorable little guy was never a harm to anyone while he was out, but zoo authorities say they are looking into how he escaped and are wondering if the fact that he hasn't had much of an appetite in recent days may have led to his escape. He's only been at the zoo since late April and is a new part of their exhibit after transferring from a zoo in Lincoln, Nebraska. It's possible the little guy is homesick.
The zoo used Twitter to help them in their search, which saw a tweet featuring a photo of Rusty retweeted over 3,000 times.
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
— Molly Jean (@themollytrolley) June 24, 2013
— Clayton Hove (@adtothebone) June 24, 2013
— S A Schwenninger (@SSchwenninger) June 24, 2013