Red panda named Barney escapes German zoo, is rescued by fire department while ‘grumbling slightly’


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A red panda named Barney was rescued from a tree after he escaped from his enclosure at the Cologne Zoo earlier this week in Cologne, Germany, the zoo posted on its social media accounts on Jan. 19. 

After ensuring that Barney was safe and sound in his home on Wednesday evening, zookeepers arrived on Thursday to find that he had made his way up a tree outside his enclosure.

Barney, the zoo wrote on Instagram, “couldn’t be persuaded to leave of his own accord.” 

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So, to rescue him, the Cologne Zoo called in the fire department. 

Using a ladder truck, officials extracted Barney from the tree safely and brought him back down. 

baby red panda in snow

Red pandas are an endangered species, with fewer than 10,000 remaining in the wild. Barney (not pictured) in Cologne, Germany, “couldn’t be persuaded to leave [a tree] of his own accord” — so officials called the fire department. (Milwaukee County Zoo / AMAZING ANIMALS+ /TMX)

“The zookeepers caught the little panda on the ground and released him back into his enclosure,” the zoo wrote on social media. 

Barney, now returned to his home, was “grumbling slightly,” the post also said. 

Zookeepers are unsure how Barney was able to make his great escape, but they suspect he climbed out on bamboo that had been warped by the snow. 

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Despite their name similarities, red pandas are not closely related to the giant panda, said the Cologne Zoo’s Facebook page. 

Unlike their giant counterparts, who are naturally found only in southwestern China, red pandas are “found mainly in the temperate mountain forests of Nepal, India, through Bhutan and Myanmar, to southern China,” said the Cologne Zoo. 

Red panda eating grass

Unlike giant pandas, who eat bamboo almost exclusively, red pandas eat a variety of plants and insects in addition to bamboo.  (Virginia Zoo via AP)

They also eat more than just bamboo, the zoo said. 

However, like the giant panda, the red panda is an endangered species. 

The red panda is classified as endangered and fewer than 10,000 red pandas remain in the wild, according to the World Wildlife Fund. 

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Barney is not the only red panda who has made news by escaping an enclosure.

In August 2022, a red panda named Ravi was discovered in a fig tree in a park after he escaped from his enclosure at the Adelaide Zoo in Australia. 

Rusty the red panda

Rusty the red panda, pictured, escaped from the National Zoo for about six hours in June 2013. He was eventually found in a nearby neighborhood.  (Abby Wood/Smithsonian National Zoo via Getty Images)

Ravi, said the zoo, had arrived just two days before. 

His zookeepers believed he was simply trying to explore his environment and had gotten stuck in a tree. 

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Zookeepers eventually used a tranquilizer dart to safely remove Ravi from the tree. 

In 2013, a red panda named Rusty went on the run through Washington, D.C., for about six hours after he escaped from his enclosure at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute.

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Rusty was eventually spotted in the nearby neighborhood of Adams Morgan and was returned safely to the zoo. 

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