Eunice, a multi-colored lesser panda -- not to be confused with the famous giant Chinese panda -- escaped from her pen at the National Zoo on Monday night and then toyed with eight zoo workers for two hours yesterday morning before she finally was captured in a net.
Described by zoo officials as about the size of a large, furry house cat, Eunice apparently scaled a masonry wall in her pen, latched on to a bamboo tree outside the wall and climbed to freedom.
A zoo worker spotted Eunice, who has a cream-colored face, rusty-shaded body and black-and-red-ring-striped tail, about 10 a.m. yesterday and then the fun began. Unable to coax Eunice from her perch 50 feet up a tree, zoo worker David Gaither climbed the tree, tied a rope to the limb where Eunice sat, threw the rope over a second limb, cut the first limb off and gently lowered Eunice to the ground.
No doubt smirking a bit, Eunice quickly scurried off and ran 50 feet up another tree.
After frustrated zoo workers again cut a limb and lowered Eunice to the ground with the rope, she was caught, unharmed, in a butterfly-like net.
Eunice, one of 12 lesser pandas at the zoo, is the second animal in recent days to make a freedom run. In mid-November, a Malaysian sun bear escaped to a parking lot, but was captured after being shot with a tranquilizer dart.