Red panda vanishes from Belfast Zoo sparking major hunt

A RARE red panda has gone missing from Belfast Zoo.

Police are trying to track down the animal and have warned members of the public not to approach or try to capture it.

These two rare pandas were born in June at Belfast Zoo

It went missing on Sunday and is “believed to be currently taking in the sights of beautiful Glengormley”, cops said.

While they are not aggressive, red pandas can become defensive when cornered.

Police said in a statement: “Earlier on Sunday a red panda decided to take a surprise vacation from Belfast zoo, it is believed to be currently taking the sights of beautiful Glengormley.

“Should you see this panda, please ring us on 101, the PSNI along with help from our friends at the zoo will help transport the explorer home.

“These animals are nocturnal and would generally be located within wooded areas.

“Please do not approach or attempt to capture this animal, although they are not aggressive by nature they may be defensive when cornered.

“Our curious friend has not yet learned the green cross code, so if motorists could also be vigilant! Especially within the Glengormley area.”

Two panda cubs were born to parents Chris and Vixen at the zoo in June last year but only started to venture outside towards the end of 2018, as they are born blind and develop slowly.

According to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, the red panda is facing a very high risk of extinction.

This is due to habitat loss and illegal hunting for their fur, in particular their long bushy tail which is highly prized as a good luck charm for Chinese newlyweds.

Belfast zoo is closed this week for maintenance works and staff training and will not be open to visitors today.

The red panda is not aggressive but may become defensive when cornered

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