The male named Rusty was captured in a bush in the Adams Morgan neighborhood on Monday afternoon, said National Zoo spokeswoman Pamela Baker-Masson. The animal was being taken to the zoo's animal hospital for a checkup.
Unlike giant pandas, red pandas are not members of the bear family. Red pandas are slightly bigger than a domestic cat and look similar to a raccoon. They are listed as vulnerable in the wild.
Rusty arrived at the zoo in April from a zoo in Lincoln, Neb., and was in quarantine for several weeks until he went on exhibit in early June. He will turn 1 year old in July.
Red pandas are highly territorial, so zoo officials did not believe he would have traveled far. Rusty, it seems, wanted to explore his new city.
Animal keepers discovered he was missing Monday morning and started searching the zoo at 8 a.m. Residents in the surrounding neighborhoods may have been on the lookout as well as photos were posted on Twitter just before the animal was caught.
The zoo began sending out messages about his disappearance Monday morning on Twitter in case someone saw him.
Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.