Sunny the red panda: Four months later, what happened to Sunny?

Posted at 8:52 PM, May 22, 2017

NORFOLK, Va. - It’s been four months since Sunny the Red Panda escaped her cage and the mystery surrounding her disappearance still haunts some.

The official search for Sunny the red panda is over but News 3 spoke with people who have kept their eyes open for her to this day.

19-month-old Sunny got national attention when she somehow got out of her enclosure at The Virginia Zoo in Norfolk back in late January.

The search was intense. Police used a geothermal cameras, drones, and dogs in the search. Volunteers looked high and low in the surrounding neighborhoods.

“I go out every night in hopes of spotting her. I've seen lots of raccoons, foxes, and possums,” said Gwen Spillan.

Spillan lives near the Zoo.

She, like many other animal lovers were captivated by the Red Panda and wanted to do anything she could to help with the search.

On her nightly walks with her dogs she still looks for Sunny.

“As soon as I see the light reflect off their eyes, I hope it's sunny and never is,” said Spillan.

Others in the neighborhood also still look.

“Every day we talk about sunny,” said Larry Lentz back in April, “We were hoping we get good news from News 3.”

The Zoo told News 3 they are still optimistic they will find her.

There have been tips about possible sightings over the last four months.

Sunny was last seen in her enclosure Monday January 22 around 5 p.m.

She was not there when zookeepers arrived Tuesday morning.

Zoo staff, 16 trained volunteers, Norfolk Police and dozens of community members helped in the search at the zoo and in a one mile radius from the property.

Many people have reported sightings of Sunny but most have turned out to be raccoons.

Some think she is still hiding out in the zoo.

“I hope it turns up I hope it's not in someone's basement,” said Tara Burchfield.

“I think she will show up. She's in the zoo somewhere. She wants to stay where she feels safe, near her food supply is and hopefully she'll show up sooner than later,” said Spillan.

If you see Sunny – you are asked to contact authorities.