Zoo finds hidden red panda

The Toronto zoo has recovered a red panda that had escaped its pen and evaded capture for more than a month by blending in with Canada’s colourful red maple leaves, officials said on Friday.

“We looked day after day after day for him, but there are a lot of trees in the park, including many maple trees that have a reddish colour this time of year, so it was easy for him to hide in the leaves,” said zoo executive director Bill Raply.

“We found a lot of raccoons, but no red panda,” he said.

Ferrous, named for the red iron-like colour of his fur, left his home on October 16, using a tree that had fallen in a windstorm to climb over the fence around his exhibit.

“We were hoping he wouldn’t go too far, would get homesick and come back where he knew he was being fed every night,” Raply said.

The nine-year-old animal was found by a gardener this week sitting in a tree about 2km away, healthy, but a bit thinner. He likely survived by eating local berries, apples and tree leaves, as well as bamboo planted by staff, Raply said.

Ferrous is now back with his mate, Sweet Pea.

Red pandas are native to Asia, are much smaller than their black-and-white cousins and like to lounge in trees for hours at a time.—Sapa-AFP

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