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Search Continues For Red Panda Escaped From Zoo

Authorities are on the lookout for an endangered red panda which escaped from a zoo in France.

The red panda is believed to have escaped by climbing branches which were broken by recent snowfall, staff at St-Martin-la-Plaine zoo said.

The "little" red panda got free from the zoo near Lyon after it was closed for several days last week, as a result of heavy snow causing damage to trees and structures.

It was reportedly last seen by a motorist around five kilometres from the zoo.

In a Facebook post, the zoo described the three-year-old male as  an "outstanding climber who is not afraid of heights".

The zoo is urging residents to scan trees for the nocturnal animal who "spends a good part of its day sleeping in a tree".

Despite asking people to keep a lookout, the zoo warned residents not to get too close as the escape artist has "good claws and good teeth".

Zoo veterinarian Jean-Christophe Gerard told AFP that while the animal is relatively harmless, "it shouldn't be hugged".

Red panda numbers in the wild have declined by 50 percent in the past two decades and are threatened by poaching and habitat loss, according to scientists.

Animal-keepers hold the two red panda twins at Dortmund Zoo. Image: Getty

They are hard to spot in the wild, with their shaggy red coat camouflaging them in the treetops.

The endangered animal is not the first red panda to have escaped from a zoo this year.

Amber the panda made headlines after she was recovered following an escape from Belfast Zoo in January.

Kush, a seven-year-old panda was also located after escaping from a wildlife park in the Isle of Man.

Contact Eden at egillespie@networkten.com.au