False alarm after dozens of people call about missing red panda sighting

Posted at 12:41 PM, Jan 26, 2017
and last updated 2017-01-26 13:03:02-05

NORFOLK, Va. - Search crews were out Thursday morning looking for Sunny, the Virginia Zoo's missing red panda.

New 3 spoke to Walter Barrington, one of the people who called the Zoo hotline saying he saw Sunny up in a tree in his back yard. Though red pandas climb trees, what Barrington saw was a raccoon.

Virginia Zoo Executive Director Greg Bockheim said the size of Sunny is one of the many things that differentiates him from raccoons. Red pandas have a body the length of a raccoon's but their tails are just as long. Their coloring is darker red than a redhead's hair and they walk very slowly and deliberately.

Red pandas will rarely frantically run or climb. They are watchful animals and will spend time observing you before they scamper away.

Again, if you do see Sunny, call this hotline at 757-777-7899.