The Search Continues for Missing Red Panda Sunny From Virginia Zoo
Lifestyle| | By Robin Milling
Have you seen this red panda? That is what the staff at the Virginia Zoo are wondering as 19-month-old Sunny has gone missing from her habitat. On January 25, workers at the zoo put out an all-points bulletin in search of Sunny.
The missing panda was last seen inside the Norfolk facility’s red panda habitat around 5:00 p.m. on January 23.
Sunny has lived happily at the Virginia Zoo since May 2016 when she was transferred from the Smithsonian’s Conservation Biology Institute in Front Royal, Virginia. The zoo has several theories as to how Sunny could have escaped her man-made environment, which features trees, barriers and other components in accordance with the Association of Zoos and Aquariums Red Panda care manual.
“It is red panda breeding season,” a representative with the zoo said. “The animals become more agitated and could display a little abnormal or hyperactive behavior.”
The zoo’s other theory is she may have fallen from a slippery tree branch when her lusty male habitat mate Thomas pursued her, causing her to slip and fall. They are encouraging the community to search for Sunny in their trees and backyards – especially those who live within a mile radius. Apparently, they believe she couldn’t have gone very far.
When looking for Sunny, the zoo said, “Scan the tree canopy from a distance, rather than walking up to individual trees to search. She will likely position herself to be able to people watch from a mid-to-high point in a tree or other climbable structure.”
The Virginia Zoo staff and ZooCrew Volunteers have worked around the clock looking for Sunny. They posted flyers and took to Facebook so members of the community can reach out with any sightings. The zoo cautioned, “Do not try to touch, feed or capture Sunny, but do keep your eyes on the animals at all times if possible while you make your call.”
Concerned users have shared the post over 4,000 times in an effort to get the word out about Sunny’s unknown whereabouts. One comment hoped someone didn’t snatch up the cute red panda cub as a pet.
The zoo is working with the Norfolk Police Department using an infrared camera to properly search for Sunny. Red pandas are described as having a “reddish-brown color with thick fur and a long tail, and is similar in size to a raccoon.”
Your Daily Dish learned via Facebook messenger that most of the calls on the zoo’s hotline have come from people mistaking a raccoon for Sunny. The developing news was recently updated to their website on January 25.
If you see Sunny, say something by calling the Virginia Zoo hotline number: 757-777-7899.