Panda on the Run: Search Intensifies for Extremely Rare Red Panda After It Escapes From Zoo

The search has centered on a one-mile radius around the Virginia Zoo in Norfolk.

Four days after Sunny the 19-month-old red panda escaped from the Virginia Zoo, her disappearance has raised serious concern, leaving officials on a desperate search to find the animal.

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The animal is an endangered species and search parties and volunteers are searching high and low to find her. Norfolk police are also helping with the search for Sunny, using a thermal camera.

Sunny was last seen in the red panda habitat at Virginia Zoo in Norfolk. It's mating season, and officials think she was on a branch being pursued by an amorous male red panda when she fell and landed outside the enclosure.

"I think there is a lot of food for her, it has been raining around, there is good freshwater around," zoo executive director Greg Bachman told Inside Edition: 

He added that some of the sightings have "not been reliable," with most people mistaking the panda for a raccoon. 

The search is centered on a one-mile radius around the zoo which includes residential neighborhoods, a park, and a cemetery.

The zoo has even sent out an alert on Twitter.

Thank you to staff & volunteers who worked diligently today searching for Sunny, our missing Red Panda. Plz call/txt 757-777-7899 w any info

— The Virginia Zoo (@VirginiaZoo) January 25, 2017

Red pandas are smaller than the black-and-white pandas that are so beloved. There are less than 10,000 animals like Sunny in the world today.

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The zoo urges anyone who sees Sunny not try to feed, pet or capture her.

This also isn’t the first time a red panda has escaped from the zoo.

In 2015, “Fluffy” escaped from the Sequoia Park Zoo in California. A resident later spotted the animal near her home and she was coaxed down from a tree and returned to the zoo.

Watch: Have You Seen Her? Red Panda Vanishes From Virginia Zoo Overnight