Red Panda Makes a Break From California Zoo
Staff worried about 'naive' and 'vulnerable' escapee Masala
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 20, 2015 12:30 PM CST
This undated handout photo provided by the National Zoo shows a different red panda that escaped from its enclosure in June 2013.   (AP Photo/Smithsonian’s National Zoo, Abby Wood)

(Newser) – A red panda made a break for it between feeding times Thursday at California's Sequoia Park Zoo—and now staffers are frantically searching for it, the San Jose Mercury News reports. Masala, a fully grown female described by the zoo as being the "size of a domestic cat," was discovered to be missing when the zoo got a report saying a red panda had been spotted roaming around a Eureka-area neighborhood, per the North Coast Journal.

"We have no idea how she got over the fence," Gretchen Ziegler, the zoo's manager, tells the North Coast Journal. "It's contained red pandas since it was built. Animals can do things you can't imagine." Although staff stress that Masala isn't a danger to people, they're concerned because she could be hit by a car or preyed on by another animal, or she may not be able to find a steady supply of food (she eats bamboo) or water. Masala is also said to be "pretty naive" and "vulnerable," per the manager. "She's never been out of the exhibit," Ziegler tells the Mercury News. (A tiger that escaped a flooded zoo earlier this year was "liquidated.")