The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium released a statement on their Facebook explaining that on Wednesday, July 22nd a red panda was missing from its habitat in the Asia Quest section of the zoo. The panda resembles a red-furred raccoon and the zoo urges citizens in the area to keep their eyes peeled until the animal is found.
The zoo made sure to clarify that the panda does not pose a threat, but they are eager to find it. Staff members have combed through security footage and so far no sightings of the animal have been confirmed and no evidence as to how the panda escaped has been found.
To make matters worse, the panda is a recent mother to two cubs who are still nursing. This only increases the pressure on the zoo staff to find her, but it does make it possible that she will return to the habitat on her own because of her cubs.
It is possible that the strong storms at the zoo caused branches within the red panda habitat to become bent in a way that allowed the panda to escape. Red pandas are excellent climbers and the missing panda could have escaped this way. Vegetation within the habitat has been trimmed in order to ensure that the male panda within the habitat cannot escape.
If the panda is spotted in the wild, the zoo is encouraging community members to contact them at 614-582-1844. They also state that locals should not approach the panda as they are naturally a shy species and they do not wish to frighten her.
Update 07/23/20 at 7:15 pm
A statement from the Columbus Zoo Read (in part)
“Kora was spotted by two guests who noticed her on the ground among dense foliage between the rhino habitat and the entrance of the Pachyderm Building in the Zoo’s Asia Quest region. As previously suspected by her care team members, she was not far from her habitat and her cubs. The guests quickly reported their sighting to team members at 4:43 p.m., who immediately called the Zoo’s Security and Animal Health teams.
As the team arrived to respond, Kora climbed high into a nearby tree. In an attempt to coax her down, the team brought her favorite treats and, when that did not work, they carefully brought out her vocalizing cubs. While she was attentive to their sounds and moved toward them, she remained in the tree just above the rooftop of the Pachyderm Building.”
She was carefully tranquilized by the zoo’s professional team and fell, safely, into their nets just before 6 pm.
Kora has been evaluated by the specialists and given the “all-clear”. They will observe her overnight and plan to re-unite Kora with her children as well as dad, General Tso.