In Depth

Missing red panda returned to Belfast Zoo

Endangered animal ‘decided to take a surprise vacation’ on Sunday

A rare and endangered red panda that went missing from Belfast Zoo over the weekend has been found.

Police in the Northern Irish capital said the animal “had decided to take a surprise vacation” on Sunday and was “believed to be “taking in the sights of beautiful Glengormley”.

The “adventurous panda was located safe and well” today following the police alert, reports ITV News.

Belfast Zoo tweeted: “We are happy to report that the missing red panda has been located and is being returned to its home at Belfast Zoo - thanks to everyone for their help with the search!”

In an earlier statement posted on Facebook, the Police Service of Northern Ireland had warned motorists to be vigilant, saying: “Our curious friend has not yet learned the green cross code.”

Red pandas “are generally smaller than their better known black and white cousins, looking more like a fox with a striped tail”, says the Daily Mirror.

Two red panda cubs were born at the zoo last year, but it is not known if it was one of these that disappeared, the newspaper adds.

The circumstances of the missing animal’s apparent escape remain unclear.

Police had warned the public against approaching or attempting to capture the panda as it might be defensive if cornered. 

The International Union for the Conservation of Nature has said that the species is facing a very high risk of extinction.

It is “believed there are only between 10,000 and 20,000 left in existence”, reports Sky News.

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