Strange Japanese zoo safety drill sees man dressed up as snow leopard captured by staff

The zoo's managers said that the drill was crucial to safety and made to be as 'realistic as possible'

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The Independent Online

In one of the strangest safety drills ever seen, a zoo in Japan has attempted to simulate the escape of one of its animals by dressing up a staff member in a novelty snow leopard costume.

The management at Tama Zoo in Tokyo said they wanted to make the drill as “realistic as possible” so that staff new exactly what to do if an animal escaped.

In footage released by the zoo this week, a man dressed as the snow leopard is seen running across the park's grounds as 70 members of staff attempt to capture it using nets, poles and tranquiliser darts. At one point, staff members have to pretend to carry out CPR on someone who has been “attacked” by the leopard.

After cornering it in a net, the leopard is finally sedated after it is shot with a fake tranquiliser.

Despite the seemingly light-hearted nature of the drill, the zoo’s authorities said that it was completely necessary to ensure staff knew their roles if an animal escaped during a disaster like an earthquake.

Tama zoological park director, Yutaka Fukada, explained: “We focused on making this drill as realistic as possible. One of our staff being knocked down injured and then being knocked unconscious and going into cardiac arrest was a part of that.“

Zebra.jpg Unsurprisingly, many of the visitors who witnessed the mock escape were less convinced about how realistic and worthwhile the exercise was.

Three-year-old Sora Ichikawa said: ”He's not scary at all, but chasing him down the hill must have been quite a bit of work.“ 

This is not the first time the zoo has carried out a safety drill that involved a member of staff dressing up as an escaped animal.

In February 2013, a man dressed up as a zebra for a safety drill at Tama, while in 2011 a tiger costume was used for the drill.