Twin red panda cubs Zeya and Ila were apparently on a small tree branch that broke and landed just outside their exhibit, leading to a 15-hour panda hunt.
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.
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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.
The zoo said exhibits with tall trees and long branches are routinely checked, but staff members are re-examining the red-panda exhibit as a precaution.
The twins arrived June 19 in the first successful red panda births at the zoo in nearly 30 years. They were unveiled to the public in late November.