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Monkey business: Tokyo zoo staff chase chimp in disaster drill

A zoo worker dressed in a chimpanzee costume for a disaster drill at a zoo (Sirabee)
A zoo worker dressed in a chimpanzee costume for a disaster drill at a zoo (Sirabee)

TOKYO (TR) – Staff at a government-owned zoo in Hino City chased a man in a chimpanzee costume as part of a large-scale earthquake drill jointly held with police and firefighters on Tuesday.

Some 100 participants took part in the joint drill held at the Tama Zoological Park, which simulated a scenario where a chimpanzee escaped during a large-scale disaster, the Mainichi Shimbun reports (Feb. 7).

Armed with nets, participants broke into groups and set off to capture a zoo worker dressed in the chimpanzee costume as others helped visitors evacuate.

The excited chimpanzee wielded a broken branch and attacked the participants, biting one in the shoulder and striking another in the back.

A zebra-patterned car carrying a worker armed with a tranquilizer gun arrived and a shot was fired at the chimpanzee, who wavered before collapsing to the ground.

Zoo workers prodded the chimpanzee with a stick to confirm the tranquilizer was working before securing him with nets.

Yutaka Fukuda, director of the zoo, said “young workers should drill the procedures into their heads, and be able to quickly respond when it comes to evacuations during unexpected times like disasters.”

A 27-year-old visitor said the drill was “quite the large-scale exercise, even the police were involved.”

The Tama Zoological Park has been holding such emergency drills since 1977, and has in recent years been taking turns hosting the drills with the Ueno Zoo.

The Tama Zoological Park has seen four cases of animals escapes over the years, including a chimpanzee and a hermit ibis, a type of migratory bird.