Belfast Zoo in Northern Ireland has announced that the rare red panda which escaped from its premises has been found safe and sound.
The animal went missing on Sunday, prompting Belfast City Council to ask members of the public to report any sightings to the zoo, the Associated Press reports. Police in the Northern Irish capital also issued an appeal, with officers saying the animal was "believed to be currently taking in the sights of beautiful Glengormley."
After a 12-hour search through Sunday evening and into Monday morning, the zoo announced the small cat-like creature - named Amber - had been found safe and well. A spokesperson said it had been found in a residential area about a mile away.
We are happy to report that the missing red panda has been located and is being returned to its home at Belfast Zoo - thanks to everyone for their help with the search! pic.twitter.com/hHLcLmtDyv— Belfast Zoo (@BelfastZoo) January 28, 2019
An electricity failure is believed to be responsible for the escape. After examining the enclosure Amber managed to break out of, zookeepers discovered there had been a power fault which had stopped an electric fence working.
Ambert is one of two red panda cubs that were born at the zoo in June last year. Her twin is called Autumn. Although the cubs are already almost grown to adult size, they only began venturing outside in November. The pair were born to Chris, a red panda from a Dutch zoo, and Vixen, who came from Dresden Zoo in Germany. The family of four all live at Belfast Zoo.
The red panda is a small tree-dwelling mammal native to the Himalayas. While they are not aggressive, red pandas can become defensive when cornered. They are slightly larger than a domestic cat, with thick reddish-brown fur.
The red panda has been classified as a relative of the giant panda, and also of the raccoon, with which it shares a ringed tail. Currently, red pandas are considered members of their own unique family—the Ailuridae, according to National Geographic.
The International Union for the Conservation of Nature says that the species is facing a very high risk of extinction. It is believed there are between 10,000 and 20,000 left in existence. Their natural space is shrinking as more and more forests are destroyed by logging and the spread of agriculture.