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How a Japanese zoo trains for animal escapes

Posted at 11:32 AM, Feb 03, 2016
and last updated 2016-02-03 11:32:59-05
How does a zoo practice responding to an escaped animal without actually setting one loose?
 
Here’s one way: Dress up an employee as an animal.

A total 150 zoo workers at Ueno Zoological Gardens in Tokyo took part in the biannual drill, which featured one of its zookeepers, who usually cares for gorillas, dressed as a zebra.
 
The employee tore down fences and pushed over a fellow zookeeper before getting trapped in a net.
 
"Zebras are animals that panic easily, so when humans actually came close (during the exercise), I felt myself almost panicking as well,” said Yumi Tamura, the zookeeper. “So next time, when I am on the catcher's side, I'd like to keep that feeling in mind when dealing with animals."
 
The Uneo Zoo has had to deal with escapes in the past, including panthers, elephants and monkeys.
 
"I believe it is our responsibility, as a zoo, to ensure we are communicating effectively, so that people can see and understand our zoo is making effort, and to let people know this is how zoo-keeping is done,”  said Toshimitsu Doi, director for Ueno Zoological Gardens.