Red panda escapes enclosure at Newquay Zoo

30 May 2023


Born Free raises concerns about an escaped red panda from Newquay Zoo that was found almost half-a-mile away near a greengrocers.

A red panda climbing a terraced fence after escaping from Newquay Zoo

The full details of the incident are not yet known, but Devon and Cornwall Police have reported that they attended to an escaped animal report at 7.10am on Friday 26 May 2023. The animal was kept contained until zoo staff arrived and returned the animal to the zoo. Due to the time of the incident, it is suspected that the animal escaped overnight. 

While we are relieved that the red panda is safe, the Born Free Foundation is concerned about the frequency of zoo escapes which continue to occur across the UK each year. In the last 12 months animals to escape from UK zoos include meerkats, ring-tailed lemurs, a barn owl, a bald eagle, ibis and macaws. Outside the UK, three chimps were tragically shot after escaping from their enclosure in a Swedish zoo in December last year. In the same month, five lions escaped from their enclosure at Taronga Zoo, Australia. A red panda that escaped from another Australian zoo last year was sadly killed after walking onto a motorway.

Current UK zoo licensing conditions require zoos to notify their local licensing authority of any escape beyond the zoo’s perimeter within 24 hours, while internal escapes only require the zoo to note the incident within their own records. As a result, it is thought that many more escapes occur each year than those that are publicly reported.

Chris Lewis, Captivity Research Officer at Born Free stated, “While the escape of a dangerous zoo animal comes with obvious risks to the public and zoo staff, this incident highlights the dangers for other zoo animals that may escape. The red panda will have no doubt crossed roads and could have potentially come into contact with dogs or other animals which could have caused it severe harm. We hope that the zoo and local authority put in place immediate corrective measures to ensure such an incident does not occur again.”

Born Free has previously called for the publication and independent review of annual summary statistics for escapes and causes of animal deaths in UK zoos. We continue to challenge the UK zoo industry and lobby for policy change; most recently providing our response to the review of the standards of modern zoo practice.

Zoos and Aquaria: UK 

Image (c) Freshpoint Newquay