Turpin the racoon has been found safe and well at Drusillas Park thanks to the swift actions of two school girls.
Youngsters Sasha Rodger and Daphne Lock discovered the furry fugitive in Go Wild, the zoo’s adventure play area.
The missing mammal was discovered curled up in a themed crate at the top of the climbing frame.
Youngsters Sasha and Daphne notified the zoo staff who were able to recover Turpin by removing the crate.
The girls were enjoying an impromptu visit to Drusillas as their school was closed due to polling.
Zoo manager Sue Woodgate said: “The zoo keepers were so excited when they received the report that one of the racoons was safe and in the Park. Turpin was very pleased to be reunited with her mum and dad; she has eaten well and is in good health. We are very grateful to Sasha and Daphne for finding her.”
Bandit, the second of the two raccoons to go missing last month, remains at large.
Drusillas Park issued an appeal for information on the whereabouts of two racoons that absconded from the zoo after staff discovered two of the four resident racoons were missing during their early morning checks on April 26.
The racoons had moved to a shared enclosure with the coatis at the beginning of March and although the introductions went very well, they were still adjusting to their new surroundings.
Although it is not clear exactly what happened, it is thought that they may have been spooked by a noise or unexpected movement, leading them to flee up the perimeter fence and through the electric deterrent.
The keepers scoured the park and surrounding area but were forced to launch an appeal to the public to be vigilant last week.
Racoons have a black stripe across their face which resembles a robber’s mask and a large bushy black and white ringed tail. They could be mistaken for a badger at first glance.
Keepers are satisfied that Bandit will be able to survive on its own for some time by eating a variety of foods including fruits, berries, nuts, grass, insects and small mammals and are opportunistic scavengers.
The biggest threat Bandit currently faces is from motorists, say zoo keepers.
The zoo team is asking dog walkers, ramblers and residents to be on the look out for any telltale signs of its whereabouts, such as bird feathers, food remains and faeces.
Raccoons are most likely to be active at dawn and dusk, said Mrs Woodgate.
Anyone with information on Bandit’s whereabouts is asked to call Drusilla Park on 01323 74100 or 07940 483815.