Shizuoka zoo recovers missing red panda after frantic search

AFP-JIJI

A zoo near Mount Fuji scrambled all of its staff to track down a missing red panda, which was later recovered Thursday in a nearby bamboo tree, a spokesman for the Shizuoka Municipal Nihondaira Zoo said.

About 20 zoo workers and three police dogs joined the hunt for the missing creature, called Sumire, after she disappeared from her enclosure a day earlier.

The zoo warned anyone who spotted her not to try to catch the animal by themselves.

“Red pandas are not violent animals, but they may scratch you or bite you when they feel threatened,” it said in a statement.

They finally captured Sumire in an area behind the zoo, which is in Shizuoka city.

“She was found high up on a bamboo tree in the backyard, munching on its leaves,” the zoo spokesman said. “Apples are her favorite food, though.”

Sumire is not the first animal to make a break for freedom in Japan. In 2012 a penguin on the run from a Tokyo aquarium outwitted authorities for 82 days before being caught.

There were more than 30 sightings of the 60-centimeter bird, known only as Penguin 337, who was spotted around various locations, including swimming in Tokyo Bay.