Missing: A 19-month-old red panda.
The female, who goes by the name Sunny, went missing sometime after Tuesday evening from the Virginia Zoo in Norfolk. Authorities at the zoo said they are working with police, using a geothermal camera, to try to find the wayward panda.
Sunny was last seen at 5 p.m. Monday in its habitat at the zoo, officials said. But on Tuesday morning, when zookeepers were doing their first checks, Sunny was gone.
Officials said they did a “thorough search” of the zoo grounds.
It isn’t the first time a red panda has been known to escape.
In Washington, Rusty the red panda likely used a tree and bamboo bridge a few years ago to escape from the National Zoo in the Woodley Park neighborhood. Rusty was later found running on the street in the Adams Morgan neighborhood and returned to the zoo.
And in 2007, a 1-year-old red panda named Yin went missing for a bit from an exhibit at the Norfolk zoo.
Red pandas are reddish-brown and have thick fur and a long tail. They are close in size to a raccoon. They can be seen on the ground and in trees, zookeepers said. Sunny came to the zoo in Norfolk in last May from the Smithsonian’s Conservation Biology Institute in Front Royal.
Zoo officials said in a statement that they are “hopeful Sunny is still on” the zoo grounds. But there is a chance she “wandered off the property and is spotted in the community.”
Red pandas are not considered aggressive animals but zookeepers in Norfolk cautioned that “like any wild animal its behavior can be unpredictable and you should not try to touch, feed, or capture Sunny yourself.”
Those who may see her are asked to call the zoo at 757-777-7899.