Red panda spends six hours outside its San Diego Zoo habitat, up a tree

Zookeeper Janell Roesener inspects the paw of a Red Panda from China named Fuji
In this 2005 photo, zookeeper Janell Roesener inspects the paw of a red panda from China named Fuji at the San Diego Zoo. A different red panda reportedly briefly escaped its enclosure on Sunday.
(Peggy Peattie / The San Diego Union-Tribune)

The endangered species climbed a tree adjacent to the enclosure in the zoo’s Panda Canyon on Sunday morning; workers were able to ‘recall’ her back hours later


A red panda named Adira briefly escaped her open-air enclosure on Sunday — by climbing an adjacent tree — before zoo employees were able to lure her back to the habitat, a zoo spokesperson said.

The animal was discovered out of her exhibit around 9:30 a.m. and was back in her enclosure, on the ground, six hours later, according to San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance officials.

“Wildlife care specialists found that a female red panda had climbed into a tree adjacent to her habitat in the Zoo’s Panda Canyon,” the zoo said in a statement.

One worker used a long piece of bamboo to help guide the animal in the right direction and eventually employees were able to “recall” the red panda back into the habitat, said zoo spokesperson Darla Davis.

While the panda was in the tree, zoo officials temporary closed the surrounding area to visitors.

No injuries were reported.

“Red pandas spend most of the time in trees and are excellent climbers,” Davis said in an email. “Wildlife care specialists found the red panda climbed a tree in its habitat and was able to climb into another tree adjacent to the habitat.”

For their part, zoo officials said they don’t regard Adira’s time spent outside her enclosure a true escape.

“We don’t consider this an ‘escape’ as she climbed into an adjacent tree and stayed there as wildlife care specialists monitored her. She was within the vicinity at all times,” Davis said.

Adira — one of four red pandas in the zoo’s collection — came to San Diego in November, when she was relocated from the Toronto Zoo on a recommendation by the Red Panda Species Survival Plan.

Red pandas — also known as lesser pandas — are endangered and are native to the eastern Himalayas and southwestern China.

The zoo said the panda was spotted in the tree around 9:30 a.m. and was on the ground of the exhibit by 3:30 p.m.

Davis said the “habitat is currently being assessed” to try to determine what changes should be made to prevent future animal excursions, including possibly trimming trees in in the area.