Update 2:22 p.m. After Rusty's the red panda's wild journey through the streets of DC, the National Zoo has confirmed that he has indeed been taken in to custody and is headed back to his home.
Rusty the red panda has been recovered, crated & is headed safely back to the National Zoo!— National Zoo (@NationalZoo) June 24, 2013
Here he is in said crate:
Update 2:16 p.m.: Rusty has been spotted in the Adams Morgan neighborhood, per Washington City Paper.
Per WCP's Dan Singer's Twitter account a rescue effort now appears to be underway on a roof.
Original post: The National Zoo tweeted this morning that a Red Panda who goes by Rusty was last seen around 6 p.m. last night, and zoo staff have apparently been searching trees around the zoo since 8 a.m. this morning, without success. The zoo further explained that Rusty "could be sick & hiding, or someone could have taken him" in one tweet, and while that last possibility seems grim, later tweets seemed to hope for the best.
Red pandas typically spend the warm daytime hours resting, so it’s likely Rusty is somewhere in or near the Zoo hiding in a tree.— National Zoo (@NationalZoo) June 24, 2013
Red pandas are arboreal, territorial animals, so it would be unusual for Rusty to wander far from his home range, in his case his exhibit.— National Zoo (@NationalZoo) June 24, 2013
Rusty is a relatively new addition to the zoo. The zoo announced that Rusty joined the habitat in a blog post on June 10. He will turn one year old next month, and was brought to the zoo to breed with their red panda named Shama. Their relationship was going well: "On the second day keepers saw the pair sharing space and even spied Shama grooming Rusty—a sign that this duo is doing well already."
Because Twitter is just that type of place, a bunch of people thought to make Edward Snowden jokes:
But all joking aside, the zoo's Twitter account cautioned that if you are the person who happens to find Rusty you should just call the zoo rather than approach.