Video: Red panda escapes San Diego Zoo habitat by climbing tree

A red panda climbed a tree and escaped his San Diego Zoo habitat over the weekend but was captured hours later and returned to his home.

Adira, a 2-year-old red panda, used her climbing skills to scale a tree into a neighboring enclosure, San Diego Zoo officials told local outlet CBS 8.

Zoo officials could not immediately be reached for comment by USA TODAY.

But video provided to USA TODAY by Allison Fortson, who captured the cute furball's escape, shows several trees spread across the zoo's outdoor animal enclosure with Adira perched high in one on a branch of a tree just outside her enclosure.

A red panda climbed a tree and escaped his San Diego Zoo habitat on Jan. 29, 2023, but was captured hours later and returned to his home. Video provided to USA TODAY shows several trees spread across the zoo's outdoor animal enclosure with the panda in a tree.

"Here at the zoo, they blocked off the area for an animal procedure, but we walked down to the suspension bridge and saw that the red panda has escaped its habitat," Fortson posted on Reddit Sunday. "They’re trying to get it down by shaking the branches!"

"She kept coming back down onto the rat platform and then jumping back up into the trees," Fortson, 27, told USA TODAY Monday. "But she would scale down for about 5 minutes and then get spooked and run further up into the tree."

Fortson, who said she's been a zoo pass holder for four years, said zoo officials eventually captured the panda and returned it to its home.

She also said she wasn't surprised the panda escaped.

"I always thought 'If they wanted to get out they totally could,'... but never thought we’d actually see it," Fortson said. "It was amazing watching her figure out how to get back down — they are so much smarter than we think!"

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What to know about Adiria, the San Diego Zoo's red panda

Adiria is fairly new to the San Diego Zoo. The panda previously lived at the Toronto Zoo before being moved to her new home in The Sunshine State in September.

Red pandas, which eat bamboo, are endangered and live between eight and 10 years, according to the San Diego Zoo's website.

They are only found in small, isolated mountain territories above 4,000 feet in China, Nepal, India, Bhutan, and Burma.

"With their bushy tail for balance – which can be as long as their body – and claws for gripping, red pandas are acrobatic tree dwellers. Most of their time is spent in trees, and the red panda’s cinnamon red coat, occasionally saddled with orange or yellow, and soft cream-colored face mask give great camouflage among the red moss and white lichen that cover the tree trunks of their bamboo forest homes," the website detailed.

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Natalie Neysa Alund covers trending news for USA TODAY. Reach her at and follow her on Twitter @nataliealund.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Red panda's San Diego Zoo escape accomplished by climbing tree