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06/24/2013 12:27 pm ET | Updated Jun 24, 2013

Red Panda Missing From National Zoo, Last Seen Sunday Night (FOUND!) (UPDATE)

Update:
Rusty the red panda has been found, the National Zoo confirmed via Twitter after the furry fellow was spotted in Adams Morgan.

For those wondering how, exactly, this cute, cuddly red panda escaped -- sequestration may be to blame, as the Smithsonian was hit with cuts that kept the zoo from hiring keepers and curators, according to ThinkProgress.

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Be on the lookout for a red panda roaming the streets of D.C.

Rusty, a red panda who made his public debut at the Smithsonian's National Zoo in early June, was reported missing by zoo officials Monday morning and alerted the masses via Twitter:

The zoo opened late this morning as the search began for the red panda, but opened after the initial investigation proved fruitless.

"It is most likely that he has not really left the vicinity. He would have to have some very strong motivation to leave the area," zoo spokeswoman Pamela Baker-Masson told the Washington Post.

The red panda can be distinguished by reddish fur, white-tinted areas around the face and tail and an affinity for climbing trees.

According to Baker-Masson, the red panda is not dangerous to humans and the possibilities for what happened and where Rusty is are a-plenty.

The Washington Post:

She said Rusty, who is said to be friendly and mild-mannered, might have managed to get out of his enclosure and is just hiding somewhere on the zoo grounds.

She said he might have escaped and is sick or has died somewhere on the grounds. There is also the possibility that he was stolen. “We have to think of everything,” she said.

Rusty turns one in July and was added to the red panda exhibit with the hopes that he will mate with Shama, the zoo's female red panda. The red panda originally came from the Lincoln Children's Zoo in Nebraska and was brought to the zoo in May but kept in a 30-day quarantine until June, when he was finally released into the exhibit to meet Shama.

If you see Rusty, do not approach him -- call 202-633-4888.

National Zoo's Red Panda Cubs In 2011

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