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Rusty The Red Panda Is Safe And Back At The National Zoo

Submitted by on June 25, 2013 – 9:48 amNo Comment
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Rest easy, folks: Rusty, the red panda who went missing from the Smithsonian National Zoo, has been found and returned. The “friendly and mild-mannered” furry mammal was spotted on a DC street in the Adam Morgans neighborhood, just outside the National Zooligcal Park. The episode lit up social media, which also played an important role in Rusty’s recovery.

Rusty was discovered missing on Monday morning; he had last been seen at 6pm on Sunday. After a search of the grounds, the zoo went public, tweeting out a plea to help find the animal.

Though over three thousand retweets show many were concerned for the animal, Twitter also had fun with the adorable fugitive. Jokes comparing Rusty and NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, whose current whereabouts are unknown, became cliche in just a matter of hours:

 

(You know the party’s over when traditional media picks up the joke in earnest.)

But in the end, Twitter would provide real help. User Ashley Foughty was reportedly walking with her family after lunch, when they spotted the creature. They quickly realized that though he bore a resemblance to an average raccoon, this was no normal urban critter. Foughty hadn’t even heard the news of Rusty’s escape, but snapped some pictures which she tweeted at the zoo with her location, and called the zoo as well for good measure.

This isn’t the first time social media and a missing zoo animal have collided. In 2011, a poisonous cobra went missing from New York’s Bronx Zoo. A parody Twitter account detailing the snakes adventures all around the city eventually garnered over 200,000 followers. The snake was eventually found; it had escaped its enclosure, but was still within the Reptile House, which had been closed to the public following the discovery.

Zoo officials are still unsure how Rusty made his escape.

[via The Washington Post; photo by CNN/Aaron Cooper]

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