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Red Panda That Escaped Zoo In Northern California Is Found Safe

Masala, the young red panda that went missing Thursday, "is now resting after her big adventure," zoo officials said.

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A young red panda that escaped its enclosure at a zoo in Northern California on Thursday has been found safe.

The raccoon-like mammal, Masala, was found late Friday night and "is now resting after her big adventure," the Sequoia Park Zoo announced on Facebook.

Zoo manager Gretchen Ziegler told the Eureka Times Standard that Masala was herded up a fruit tree after being spotted walking around a half-mile from her enclosure. After two hours, zoo officials were able to lure Masala down and into a crate.

Masala is thought to have escaped the Sequoia Park Zoo in Eureka sometime between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. on Thursday, prompting the zoo to issue repeated appeals for help over social media.

The size of a large domestic cat, red pandas only eat bamboo, raising concerns as the hours passed that Masala could die of malnutrition, if not fall prey to predators or vehicles on the roadway.

Masala will be kept under quarantine for a while to ensure all is well, zoo officials said.

Ziegler told the North Coast Journal that staff members were also investigating how Masala could have escaped an enclosure that, before now, had never been breached.

"We have no idea how she got over the fence," she said. "It's contained red pandas since it was built. Animals can do things you can't imagine. We're going to try to figure it out."

Unlike the giant black and white bears they're associated with by name, red pandas are actually quite acrobatic and spend most of their time in trees, using their long bushy tails for balance. There are fewer than 10,000 of them in the wild, with nearly half the population claiming the Eastern Himalayas as their territory, according to the World Wildlife Fund.


Watch Masala's capture here:

View this video on YouTube

Jason Wells is deputy news director for BuzzFeed News and is based in Los Angeles.

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