An elusive red panda that escaped a Chinese zoo and lived a life on the run for eight months was recovered and returned home to its enclosure this week. For lovers of visiting cute animals at the Hangzhou Zoo in China's Zhejiang province, the nightmare lasted 242 days. 

The fugitive red panda didn't get far, despite being gone for eight months. It was discovered in a scenic area about 2.5 miles away, the South China Morning Post reported. The red panda made its great escape alongside two red panda compatriots in December. It was recovered Wednesday.

The red panda was apparently found literally just hanging out. A security guard spotted it hanging from a tree branch in a lakeside area not far from the zoo. The Hangzhou Zoo was reportedly told the red panda had been found and a group of zoo workers rushed over to the spot. 

red panda (aw) The Mother of twin red panda cubs born at the Johannesburg Zoo looks out of her compound Jan. 9 1997. Photo: Reuters

panda (panda panda panda) Two red pandas hanging out, (probably) planning a daring escape. Photo: Reuters

Luring the escaped animal back wasn't exactly an easy task. According to the South China Morning Post, Jiang Zhi, vice-director of the zoo, said they blocked off the entrance to the area with cars while some workers climbed the tree and other workers set up a net under the trees. They tried to lure the animal back with apples, the escaped red panda's favorite delicacy, but no dice. After that failed, Jiang said they resorted to shooting the animal with a tranquillizer gun. It reportedly staggered for a full three minutes before falling into the net. 

The pandas initially escaped after a tree branch fell under the weight of snow in December and allowed the clever animals to climb over a fence and out of their enclosure. Two were recovered nearly immediately by dogs tracking the animals, but the third had evaded officials until now. The 10-year-old red panda had been spotted a number of times before Wednesday, but zoo workers were never able to get to it in time.

Red pandas apparently have a habit of making headlines through daring escapes. A 17-month-old named Masala set off a three-day manhunt when she escaped Sequoia Park Zoo in Eureka, California in November. Rusty the Red Panda escaped the Smithsonian National Zoo in 2013 and roamed the streets of Washington D.C. before being captured. 

Luckily the red panda that escaped Hangzhou Zoo is seemingly doing well and lost just about 2 pounds during its time on the lam. 

Embedded are more photos of red pandas. Happy Friday.

panda 3 A two-year male red panda cub eats in its enclosure at the Argentina's Buenos Aires' Zoo, July 11, 2005. Photo: Retuers/Enrique Marcarian

panda Simon, a Red Panda, plays in a tree at Jerusalem's Biblical Zoo Sept. 5, 2005. Photo: Reuters/Gil Cohen Magen