A hunt has been launched for a red panda which went missing from a zoo in Belfast.
The public has been urged to keep clear of the panda as it ‘may be defensive when cornered’.
Police said in a statement: ‘Earlier today a red panda decided to take a surprise vacation from Belfast zoo, it is believed to be currently taking the sights of beautiful Glengormley.
A hunt has been launched for a red panda (stock photo) which went missing from a zoo in Belfast
‘Should you see this panda, please ring us on 101, the PSNI along with help from our friends at the zoo will help transport the explorer home. These animals are nocturnal and would generally be located within wooded areas.
‘Please do not approach or attempt to capture this animal, although they are not aggressive by nature they may be defensive when cornered.
‘Our curious friend has not yet learned the green cross code, so if motorist’s could also be vigilant! Especially within the Glengormley area.’
It is not the first time a red panda has escaped from Belfast Zoo, after one of the animals disappeared from an enclosure in 2002.
According to zookeepers the red pandas are also known as ‘lesser’ pandas or ‘firefoxes’.
It was originally thought that this species was related to the raccoon family or even the other bamboo eater, the giant panda, but they have since been classified as a unique species in their own family, the zoo said.
The mammals spend most of their time in the trees, with sharp claws which make them agile climbers, according to zoo chiefs.