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Rusty -- about the size of a tabby cat but far more endangered -- takes a tour of his new neighborhood.

4:13 AM, Jun 25, 2013   |    comments
Photo by Associated Press
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WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Rusty the red panda has been found after spending most of the day on the loose, the Smithsonian's National Zoo tweeted Monday.

Zoo workers had been searching for him since 8 this morning, when he was reported missing from his enclosure. He had been seen previously at 6 p.m. Sunday.

The tweet did not say where Rusty was found; however, a woman Monday afternoon tweeted a photo from the Adams Morgan neighborhood adjacent to the zoo of what appeared to be a red panda.

"Red panda in our neighborhood!" @AshleyFoughty tweeted. "Please come save him! @nationalzoo1 pic.twitter.com/llQF7P9QH5"

Earlier, the zoo had tweeted, "Red pandas typically spend the warm daytime hours resting, so it's likely Rusty is somewhere in or near the zoo hiding in a tree."

As of about 4 p.m. Monday, Rusty was back at National Zoo getting some water and a checkup from the veterinarians there, zoo officials tweeted.

Rusty, who will be 1 year old in July, is a new addition to the Smithsonian's National Zoo, according to the zoo's website.

He arrived at the zoo from the Lincoln Children's Zoo in Nebraska. After a 30-day quarantine and introduction to the National Zoo's resident red panda, Shama, Rusty was released into the red panda exhibit on the zoo's Asia Trail in early June.

Officials are hoping that Shama and Rusty will mate one day.

"The introduction between Rusty and Shama went smoothly, just as keepers expected. Rusty approached Shama curiously and Shama postured so Rusty would know she was in charge," zoo officials said earlier this month. "On the second day keepers saw the pair sharing space and even spied Shama grooming Rusty."

Red pandas, which are an endangered species, are distantly related to the black and white giant pandas. Red pandas typically grow to the size of a house cat - between 7 and 14 pounds - and have a tail reminiscent of a raccoon, according to National Geographic and the zoo's fact sheet.

Like giant pandas, they like to eat bamboo, berries, blossoms and bird eggs. Red pandas live in the mountains of Nepal; northern Myanmar, also known as Burma; and central China, spending most of their lives including sleeping in trees. They are most active at night.

Fewer than 10,000 adult red pandas remain in the world, according to the National Zoo.

USA TODAY

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