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Wednesday, 30 October, 2002, 19:24 GMT
End of panda's Great Escape
Red panda
The escape was a record for a red panda
A red panda called Escape, who ran away from an animal park in central France three months ago, has been found alive - sitting in a tree just a few kilometres away.

The six-year-old female, weighing seven kilograms (14 lb), was spotted by a hunter near Saint-Martin-la-Plaine park in central France.

Red panda facts
Slightly larger than a big domestic cat
Between 2,000 - 3,000 in the wild
Lives mainly in mountain forests of South Asia
Eats mainly bamboo
Threatened by deforestation and poaching
Fur hat considered lucky by newly weds
Her keepers say her time on the run has done her no harm and that she is in excellent health, having lived on a diet of leaves and fruit.

Escape earned her nickname at her previous home in Finland, where she made regular bids for freedom.

"It was the longest escape ever recorded during the 30 years' existence of the zoo," the owner of the park, Pierre Thivillon, said.

The keepers recovered her after putting a net at the base of the tree, although a farmer who volunteered to help wrestle her into a truck had to be treated when she bit his finger.

The keepers say only motherhood might keep her closer to home.

They are hoping she might have babies next year, after months of sharing an enclosure with a male panda.

See also:

17 Oct 01 | England
29 Jul 00 | Science/Nature
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