Tokyo zoo stages fake snow leopard 'escape' as part of annual animal-escape drill

Straits Times Animal Antics

TOKYO (AFP) - An employee dressed as a snow leopard leapt out of an enclosure at a Tokyo zoo on Tuesday as part of an annual animal-escape drill.

Visitors at Tama Zoological Park were able to witness the drama unfold as the disguised zoo keeper managed to at first evade capture before being finally subdued by a pretend tranquillizer gun.

During the escape the "snow leopard" managed to "maim" an unfortunate zoo keeper, who was rushed off in an ambulance.

A similar simulation is conducted each year at alternating zoos across Tokyo to remind staff members what to do in the event of a real animal escape.

"In the event of a big earthquake, a tree could fall on a cage, or many other things could occur that may lead to an animal escape," said zoo director Yutaka Fukuda.

"We think it is very important, and it is our responsibility to carry it out with seriousness."

Previous animal costumes used as part of the drill have included zebra, rhino, lion and orang utan outfits.