Red Panda Escapes From National Zoo, Turns Up in D.C. Neighborhood

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A Twitter photo and phone tip from a resident helped animal keepers track down a missing red panda who escaped the Smithsonian's National Zoo.

Red Panda Pic

The male named Rusty was captured Monday in a tree near a home in the Adams Morgan neighborhood in Washington, D.C., on Monday afternoon.

It had traveled across the leafy Rock Creek Park, perhaps crossing a road or under a creek bridge to reach a residential area nearly a mile from the zoo.

Senior curator Brandie Smith said animal keepers surrounded the area where he was found and called Rusty's name to calm him before capturing him.

"We just had to approach him carefully," she said afterward.

"We are surprised by the distance he was able to cover."

The animal was taken to the zoo's animal hospital for a checkup and will remain there for several days. How Rusty escaped is still a mystery, though.

Zoo officials began reviewing security footage to see if there is any evidence of how he escaped or whether he may have been set loose by a human.

No security cameras are pointed directly at the red panda exhibit.

Curators have already cut back several long tree limbs that may have aided the red panda, a skilled climber by nature, with the surprising escape.

"There is no obvious point that Rusty could have gotten out of the enclosure," Smith said. "But we all know that young males like to test boundaries."

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