Japan zoo recovers missing red panda after frantic search

A Japanese zoo scrambled all of its staff on Thursday (Dec 31) to track down a missing red panda.
A Japanese zoo scrambled all of its staff on Thursday (Dec 31) to track down a missing red panda.PHOTO: ST FILE

TOKYO (AFP) - A Japanese zoo scrambled all of its staff on Thursday (Dec 31) to track down a missing red panda, a zoo spokesman said, finally recovering her in a nearby area.

About 20 zoo workers and three police dogs joined the hunt for the missing creature, called Sumire, after she disappeared from her enclosure on Wednesday.

The zoo had warned anyone who spotted her not to try and catch her themselves.

"Red pandas are not violent animals, but they may scratch you or bite you when they feel threatened," it said in a statement.

They finally captured Sumire in an area behind the zoo, which is on the outskirts of Mount Fuji.

"She was found high up on a bamboo tree in the backyard, munching on its leaves," the zoo spokesman told Agence Frace-Presse. "Apples are her favourite food, though".

Sumire is not the first animal to make a break for freedom in Japan. In 2012 a penguin on the run from a Tokyo aquarium outwitted authorities for 82 days before being caught.

There were more than 30 sightings of the 60cm bird, known only as Penguin 337, who was spotted around various locations, including swimming in Tokyo Bay.