Red Panda Escapes From National Zoo
Rusty found in DC neighborhood, thanks to Twitter
By Ruth Brown, Newser Staff
Posted Jun 24, 2013 4:19 PM CDT
Rusty the Red Panda.   (AP Photo/Smithsonian’s National Zoo, Abby Wood)

(Newser) – A red panda from the National Zoo in DC went missing last night, sparking a social media-driven panda-hunt after the zoo tweeted, "We are looking for a missing red panda, a male named Rusty. He was last seen at 6 p.m. last night." @NationalZoo continued to provide regular, highly-retweeted updates on the search, and the strategy paid off: A Washingtonian spotted Rusty in her neighborhood this afternoon, and tweeted a picture to the zoo, leading to his rescue and return, the AP reports. The Washington City Paper has images from the ground.

The National Zoo still doesn't know how Rusty, who is about the size of a raccoon and will turn 1 next month, escaped. "There is no obvious point that Rusty could have gotten out of the enclosure," says a spokesperson—but the zoo promises it wouldn't happen again. "Before we put Rusty back, we'll go back over this exhibit with a fine tooth comb," she says.