UPDATE: Call off the search party. Rusty the red panda has been found, according to the National Zoo.
A red panda named Rusty has pulled an Edward Snowden and gone missing. No word on whether he's bound for Ecuador.
Rusty was last seen in his exhibit at the National Zoo in Washington, D.C. And then—abracadabra!—Rusty vanished.
The zoo posted this alert to its Twitter feed on Monday morning:
In a series of Twitter updates, the zoo wrote that zookeepers have scoured trees but have not been able to find him. "Red pandas are wild animals, & will bite if cornered or scared," the zoo warned. "If you do see Rusty, don’t try to approach him. Stay where you can safely keep an eye on him & alert the Zoo (202.633.4888) immediately."
The World Wildlife Fund lists the population of the red panda as fewer than 10,000.
The parallels between Rusty and NSA whistle-blower Snowden are too obvious to ignore. Both are being sought by authorities, and both are memes just waiting to happen. Snowden's disappearing act already has led to a slew of online memes. Should Rusty draw the attention of Secretary of State John Kerry, we're sure the memes will lead to, well, pandemonium.
Several months ago, a different red panda showed off what the species is capable of when it practiced its pullups in front of a crowd in Fuzhou, China.