Authorities are still searching for a red panda that went missing from the Virginia Zoo on Tuesday.
The 19-month-old red panda, named Sunny, was last seen in her enclosure at the zoo by staff Monday around 5 p.m. local time. During a routine check Tuesday morning, Sunny was not in her enclosure, and officials have been searching the zoo grounds since then, according to the Virginia Zoo.
The zoo said it’s working with the Norfolk Police Department to use a geothermal camera to search the property for Sunny. Officials advised residents in the area to be on alert in case the animal fled the zoo grounds.
“Zoo staff are hopeful Sunny is still on zoo grounds. In the event Sunny has wandered off the property and is spotted in the community, the public is asked to call the Virginia Zoo hotline at 777-7899,” the Virginia Zoo said in a statement Tuesday. “Red pandas are generally not considered aggressive animals, but like any wild animals, its behavior can be unpredictable, and you should not try to touch, feed or capture Sunny yourself.”
Sunny arrived at the Virginia Zoo in Norfolk last year in May from the Smithsonian’s Conservation Biology Institute in Front Royal. Like all red pandas, Sunny has a long bushy tail and thick reddish-brown fur. The animals, similar in size to a raccoon, can be seen on the ground but are typically found in trees, according to the Virginia Zoo.
Red pandas have been classified as an endangered species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature because fewer than 10,000 adult red pandas remain in the wild.