D.C. loves pandas, and 2013 had no shortage of panda-related news. But one ailurus overshadowed ailuropods for our collective attention (and hysteria) this year, even with new panda cub Bao Bao and the shutdown’s closure of the Panda Cam: Rusty, an adorable red panda who escaped from the National Zoo and spent a hot summer day traversing the District.
The panic began around 11 a.m. on June 24 when the National Zoo tweeted that Rusty was missing and hadn’t been seen since the previous evening. Around 1:30 p.m., Twitter user Ashley Foughty spotted Rusty near the Airy View condos in Adams Morgan.
Soon, Humane Society officers, D.C. police, and National Zoo staff were closing in on the house of Adams Morgan resident Erik Alda. Rusty was hiding out in a tree behind the house, and the search team stood on the roof with nets ready. Eventually, they coaxed Rusty down from the tree, put him in a crate, and returned him to the zoo safe and sound. From there it was back to the usual daily grind, but for a few dramatic hours, “Find Rusty” was the city’s new slogan.