TOKYO (AFP) - A runaway chimpanzee in Japan was shot with a tranquiliser gun only to hang precariously from a power line before falling to the ground and surviving in a drama shown live on national television.
The chimp, 24-year-old Chacha, was more fortunate than a zebra which escaped from a Tokyo zoo last month, its bid for freedom ending in death when it collapsed in a water trap after also being shot with a tranquiliser.
The chimp escaped from Sendai Yagiyama Zoological Park with keepers in hot pursuit but climbed up an electricity pole.
Zoo officials shot the chimp with the tranquiliser which eventually kicked in and caused him to lose his footing, though he managed to grab hold of a power line with one hand.
Seconds later however Chacha lost his grip and fell, live footage on TBS showed.
Chacha bounced off a lower cable before plummeting headfirst towards the ground where waiting rescuers tried to break the fall with a plastic sheet.
He was then wrapped in a blanket before being placed into a zoo ambulance.
"Chacha is coming to from the tranquiliser," Zoo staffer Toshikazu Abe told AFP.
"Despite the fall, he was unhurt and there is no threat to his life," he added.
"We are investigating why he escaped." Every year a Tokyo zoo stages a drill where a keeper dresses as an animal and stages an escape, giving zoo workers the opportunity to hone their techniques.