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Red panda escapes from California zoo

In this March 2015 photo, a pair of red pandas relax, groom, and play in the entrance of one of their hut-like shelters at Sequoia Park Zoo in Eureka, Calif.

In this March 2015 photo, a pair of red pandas relax, groom, and play in the entrance of one of their hut-like shelters at Sequoia Park Zoo in Eureka, Calif.  (AP)

A red panda is missing on California's far north coast.

The tiny creature named Masala disappeared from the Sequoia Park Zoo in Eureka sometime between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. Thursday.

Zoo manager Gretchen Ziegler tells the Times-Standard newspaper that anyone who spots the 1 1/2-year-old panda should not approach it but try not to lose sight of it and call the zoo or police.

Ziegler says the biggest threat to Masala would be cars or an animal that preys on small animals. Red pandas are about the size of house cats but have big tails.

It's unclear how the panda disappeared. Ziegler says the enclosure seems secure, but zookeepers are watching the exhibit's three other pandas.

Red pandas are native to Nepal, Myanmar and China.