Fugitive red panda recovered by Chinese zoo after eight months on the run
The last of three red pandas that escaped from Hangzhou Zoo in Zhejiang province in December was recovered on Wednesday from a scenic spot about 4km away.
The red panda, which had been missing for 242 days, was seen by a security guard in the early afternoon hanging on a tree branch in Dingjiashan, a scenic spot near West Lake. Hangzhou Zoo was informed and a group of zoo workers soon arrived at the spot, the Qianjiang Evening News reported.
Jiang Zhi, vice-director of the zoo, said three cars blocked the entrance and three zoo staff climbed trees while another eight set up a net under the trees. They first tried to lure the fugitive panda using apples, the animal’s favourite food, but that failed to work, Jiang said.
Jiang climbed a tree with a tranquillizer gun and shot the red panda from about three metres away. The panda staggered for about three minutes then fell from the tree into the net.
The 10-year-old red panda had lost about one kilogram in the eight months he was missing, Jiang said.
Three red pandas escaped from Hangzhou Zoo in December last year during heavy snow that snapped a tree limb, allowing them to use it to cross a fence. Two were recovered almost immediately after being tracked by dogs, but the third entered the Wuyun Mountain area.
The red panda was spotted by tourists in many places nearby such as Hupao Park and Jiuxi and reported to the zoo but Jiang said it had moved on each time before zoo workers arrived.
Dingjiashan is a scenic spot that few tourists visit. The red panda was settled in the top of the trees, Jiang said.
Red pandas were listed as a class II protected animal in China in 1988.