Red panda spotted walking through residential streets after escaping from Newquay Zoo

The red panda was spotted walking down the street near fruit wholesalers FreshPoint Local. Credit: FreshPoint Local

Police in Cornwall carried out an unexpected rescue mission after a red panda escaped from Newquay Zoo.

The endangered animal was seen wandering the streets of Newquay before staff at a wholesaler lured it away from the road with an apple and waited for police to arrive.

The panda, called Sundara, had only arrived at Newquay Zoo last month and is now safely back in her enclosure.

Rachel Craze, director at fruit wholesaler FreshPoint Local, said: "One of our team spotted something running down the residential street where we're located and decided it wasn't a cat or a dog so called out the rest of the team.

"Between them, they managed to get it into the car park and then they called the police.

"When the policeman had finished laughing they sent three officers out and the zoo was phoned at the same sort of time.

"Our team were keeping it safe to make sure it didn't go back out onto the road. They rolled it an apple very gently so as not to scare it. The panda very much enjoyed the apple."

She added: "When staff from the zoo arrived, they captured it with a net and the cute and cuddly animal wasn't very cute any more - she wasn't very happy at being caught.

"The whole thing lasted about half an hour but once the zoo arrived they managed to catch it quite quickly."

An inspector from Devon and Cornwall Police joked about the rescue mission in a tweet, saying that panda rescue is not something covered in the force's training.

Inspector Guy Blackford said: "[It's] not often Newquay Police get sent to an escaped red panda from the local zoo which was found by Newquay fruit sales.

"Panda rescue is not a topic taught in police training yet."

A spokesperson for Newquay Zoo said: "A red panda called Sundara, who had arrived at Newquay Zoo earlier this month, escaped from her enclosure.

"Our team responded in accordance with well-practised procedures and she was swiftly recaptured and returned to her home.”