Fugitive red panda found in fig tree after escape from Australian zoo

Seven-year-old Ravi arrived at Adelaide Zoo in the hope that he would pair up with a female named Mishry

A red panda at Taronga Zoo in Sydney, Australia, in September 2021. The mammals are known for being skilled escapologists. Getty Images
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A fugitive red panda has been caught two days after escaping from an Australian zoo.

Ravi the red panda ― a species whose members are "renowned escapologists" ― arrived at Adelaide Zoo last week in the hope that he would pair up with a female red panda named Mishry.

But by the end of the week, Ravi had vanished.

After two days on the run, the seven-year-old was recaptured in a fig tree in a nearby park.

Zookeepers spent Sunday trying to entice Ravi down from the fig tree with some of his favourite foods, including bamboo and sweet corn, Adelaide Zoo director Phil Ainsley told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

After several attempts, they were forced to use a tranquiliser dart.

“We used a couple of different dart devices, finally got a dart into him and then just had to wait about 15 minutes just for the drug to take some effect,” Mr Ainsley said.

Ravi then fell into the blankets held by zookeepers who were waiting beneath the tree.

Zookeepers prepare to catch Ravi after finding him in a tree near the zoo he escaped from on Sunday in Adelaide, Australia. Australian Broadcasting Corporation / AP

The red panda is no longer thought to be related to the better-known giant panda. They were previously thought to belong to the raccoon and bear families, but DNA research has since revealed they belong to their own unique family, according to National Geographic's website.

They are native to the rainy mountain forests of Nepal, India, Bhutan, northern Myanmar and central China.

'Recovered from his adventure'

“Ravi’s doing really well,” Mr Ainsley said.

“Settling down into animal health hospital, where he’s just going to spend the next two or three days after being on the run. Just want to make sure he’s all healthy and recovered from his adventure.”

Mr Ainsley said they discovered Ravi had escaped his enclosure on Friday morning and initially focused their attention within the zoo, thinking he would be up one of the large trees in the complex.

Then on Sunday morning a zookeeper spotted him in the fig tree in the nearby botanic park.

Ravi in a tree near the zoo on Sunday. Australian Broadcasting Corporation / AP

Mr Ainsley told the broadcaster they would review the zoo’s CCTV footage to find out how Ravi escaped.

“Obviously he’d just arrived and was testing his enclosure,” Mr Ainsley said.

“We know that red pandas are incredibly agile and renowned for being escapologists.”

Updated: August 15, 2022, 10:37 AM