Missing rare red panda cub 'Amber' in good health - after escaping from Belfast Zoo

A red panda
A red panda

A rare red panda cub which escaped from Belfast Zoo has now been found.

Belfast Zoo said: "Belfast Zoo staff successfully returned a recently-escaped red panda cub to its home in the zoo.

"Amber, who was born in summer 2018, was returned to the zoo safely late on Monday morning.

"Upon return to the zoo, Amber received a full health check by the zoo vet. Amber is in good health but continues to be observed."

They added that the search operation, conducted by Belfast Zoo staff and supported by the PSNI, started on Sunday evening.

Amber was found by the search team in Collinbridge, a residential area located within a mile of the zoo’s grounds.

Red pandas

Red pandas

Alyn Cairns, Zoo Manager, said: “We are pleased to report that Amber has been safely returned to Belfast Zoo after a short time exploring the local area.

"We would like to thank all of those involved in the search for our missing red panda. We received several calls from local residents who reported sightings which helped the search team to track its location.”

He added: "Red pandas are an endangered species and are facing a high risk of extinction due to habitat loss and illegal hunting.

"We were delighted to announce the birth of Amber and her sister Autumn in June 2018 and hope to continue successful breeding of this species in future.

“Following the initial report of the escape, we discovered a power fault in an electric fence in red panda habitat.

"Our maintenance team were informed at the earliest opportunity and the fence has since been repaired.

"Safety and security of our animals is of paramount importance so we will continue to monitor this to ensure there are no further incidents.”

Earlier in an online statement Belfast City Council said: "We are pleased to report that the red panda which escaped from its enclosure at Belfast Zoo on Sunday (27 January) has been located.

“It is safe and well and has been returned to the zoo.

“The red panda had been reported missing from Belfast Zoo yesterday (Sunday 27 January) afternoon with a sighting first reported around 5.30pm. Belfast Zoo immediately began a search for the animal which continued today (Monday 28 January).

“Local residents had been asked to report any sightings immediately to Belfast Zoo and we are grateful to members of the public who assisted with the search.”

Red pandas are nocturnal and are generally found in wooded areas. The endangered species is slightly larger than a domestic cat.

Police warned motorists to be vigilant as "our curious friend has not yet learned the green cross code".

Last June, two red pandas were born at the zoo in Cavehill, north Belfast. The twins were born as a result of a breeding programme.

Their parents met after dad Chris was brought all the way from Beekse Bergen Safari Park in the Netherlands and mum Vixen came from Germany's Dresden Zoo