An inquiry has been set up to determine how the animal escaped
Zoo-keepers had to return a red panda to its enclosure at London Zoo after it escaped into Regent's Park.
The small mammal was spotted at 0300 (BST) on Monday by the zoo's night security as it climbed a tree.
Staff in the on-site living quarters stayed under the tree to monitor the escapee during the night.
By dawn, they made an unsuccessful attempt to coax the male red panda down. Eventually a tranquiliser was used and he was brought to safety.
The zoo has ordered an inquiry to work out how the animal escaped.
Martin Ellerbeck, a cameraman and director who lives near the park, saw the zoo-keepers with the red panda.
He said: "It looked pretty much under control. There were lots of people and it looked like a jovial atmosphere.
"I could not really see it. There was lots of police but I do not think it was going to attack anyone."