Virginia Zoo Says Red Panda Escaped From Habitat

January 25, 2017-The Virginia Zoo in Norfolk, VA announced earlier today that a Red Panda named Sunny escaped her habitat and may be wandering the community.  According to the Zoo website “Sunny, a 19-month-old Red Panda is missing from her habitat at The Virginia Zoo. Sunny was last seen at 5 p.m. Monday, January 23. On first check of the Red panda habitat on Tuesday morning she was not in her enclosure and a thorough search of the Zoo grounds was immediately started.”

Red pandas are generally not considered aggressive animals, but like any wild animal its behavior can be unpredictable and you should not try to touch, feed, or capture Sunny yourself.

Earlier today, Zoo staff issued an alert to neighboring residents warning them to be on the lookout for Sunny:

How could she have escaped her habitat?

  • It is red panda breeding season. The animals become more agitated and could display a little abnormal or hyperactive behavior.
  • Monday night it was rainy and windy. Sunny may have been on a slippery branch while Thomas, the male red panda, was pursuing her and caused her to slip and fall.
  • The Virginia Zoo’s red panda exhibit is a unique and highly enriching environment for the animals. The habitat features, trees, barriers and other components are in accordance to AZA (Association of Zoos and Aquariums) regulations.

Where to look for Sunny

  • When looking for Sunny, it is better to scan the tree canopy from a distance, rather than walking up to individual trees to search. She will likely position herself to be able to people watch from a mid to high point in a tree or other climbable structure.
  • Red pandas are generally not considered aggressive animals, but like any wild animal its behavior can be unpredictable and you should not try to touch, feed, or capture Sunny yourself.

How far could Sunny have traveled?

  • It is unknown how far Sunny could have traveled, but the neighborhoods surrounding the Zoo up to a mile are being targeted.

What to do if you see Sunny:

  • If spotted, Zoo staff ask that you immediately call the Virginia Zoo hotline at 757-777-7899 and do not try to touch, feed or capture Sunny, but do keep your eyes on the animals at all times if possible while you make your call.
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