Rusty the red panda made a daring escape from his enclosure at the National Zoo in Washington on Monday, quickly becoming an Internet sensation, before turning up in a tree a mile from the zoo. A viral social media is credited with helping locate the raccoon-sized mammal within hours.
Officials are unsure how Rusty managed his great escape since his enclosure is topped with electrified fencing. But when the nearly one-year-old creature failed to show for breakfast at 7:30 a.m. Monday, zoo officials called for help.
Around 1:30 p.m., Ashley Foughty and her husband were walking back from lunch when they spotted what looked like a red, bushy-tailed cat. She followed the animal, snapped photos of the creature, and called the National Zoo, which sent keepers to fetch him.
Rusty was dehydrated and shaky after his adventure, but appears to otherwise be in good health, zoo spokeswoman Pamela Baker-Masson told the LA Times.
Fewer than 10,000 red pandas remain in the wild. They are hunted for their furry red tails, which are considered by some to be a good-luck charm. They are also incredibly adorable.