Social Media Aids in Capture of Missing Panda

A Panda Escapes From the Zoo, and Social Media Swoop In With the Net

There was an important Supreme Court ruling early in the day. An international fugitive was possibly on a flight from Moscow to Cuba. The Dow was diving. But in the nation’s capital, Rusty the red panda, who disappeared from the National Zoo, hijacked the news cycle on Monday.

On Twitter and Facebook, the hunt for 11-month-old Rusty, whom the zoo acquired three weeks ago as a partner to a female panda named Shama, exploded in a mix of concern, humor and, this being Washington, the goring of political oxen.
Once again, social media proved to be a powerful dragnet. Around 1:15 p.m., a Washingtonian posted a picture on Twitter of Rusty in a patch of weeds in the Adams Morgan district, not far from the 163-acre zoo, which was created in 1889 by an act of Congress. “Red panda in our neighborhood,” wrote Ashley Foughty, who identified herself as a singer, actress and traveler. “Please come save him!”

Another neighbor posted a photograph of two zoo workers, one in safari shorts standing on a rooftop, one holding a giant butterfly net. Soon the zoo announced: “Rusty the red panda has been recovered, crated & is headed safely back to the National Zoo!”