Wednesday, May 27, 2020
May 27, 2020

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Woodland Park Zoo’s twin red pandas escape, leading to 15-hour standoff

They fell outside exhibit when small tree branch broke


SEATTLE — Authorities nabbed two tiny red runaways Thursday after a 15-hour panda hunt at Seattle’s Woodland Park Zoo.

Woodland Park’s twin red panda cubs, Zeya and Ila, were apparently on a small tree branch that broke and landed just outside their exhibit Wednesday evening, according to a news release from the zoo. An animal keeper spotted one of the cubs scurrying around a behind-the-scenes area next to the exhibit about 8:30 p.m.

The keeper tried to follow the 12-pound animal and then radioed for help, zoo spokeswoman Farrah Paul said by phone Thursday afternoon.

“We’re very fortunate she was there and alert to observe something out of the ordinary,” Paul said.

Zeya climbed a tree close to the enclosure but was lured down around midnight. Ila remained a furry fugitive and stayed in a tall tree overnight, after animal-care and security staff decided to wait for her to climb down on her own so she wouldn’t fall. Using apples, her favorite food, the keepers got her to climb down shortly before noon.

One keeper had small scratches and bites after trying to secure Ila, the zoo said. The red pandas are being evaluated but had no signs of injuries or unusual behavior.