Update at 2:30 PM EST via Twitter:
Rusty the red panda has been recovered, crated & is headed safely back to the National Zoo!— National Zoo (@NationalZoo) June 24, 2013
The Twitter feed for the Smithsonian National Zoo in Washington, D.C., is usually the source of cute animal news and a parade of seriously swoon-worthy baby animal pictures. Today, it's more of a missing persons bulletin, of sorts.
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
Rusty was brought to the zoo last month as a match for the female red panda named Shama. The “panda blog” at the National Zoo’s website noted that, "On the second day keepers saw the pair sharing space and even spied Shama grooming Rusty—a sign that this duo is doing well already."
Red pandas, which resemble rust-hued raccoons, are about 42 inches long, including a long, bushy tail, and weigh between seven and 14 pounds. They have soft, dense fur which covers their entire body, even the soles of their feet (read: they are impossibly cute).
Staff members at the zoo have been searching for the little guy in trees around the area, but have yet to find him. In one tweet, the zoo offers the possibility that he could have been kidnapped.
Animal care staff have been combing the trees around the Zoo since 8 a.m. He could be sick & hiding, or someone could have taken him.— National Zoo (@NationalZoo) June 24, 2013
Related panda stories on MNN:
- 6 animal odd couples: The cat and the red panda
- Why we get so excited about giant pandas
- Startled, 3-month-old red panda freaks out