The Least Effective Zebra Escape You’ll See All Day

Each year, zookeepers in Tokyo hunt down and capture a coworker dressed in an animal suit as part of their annual animal escape preparedness training.

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Pity the zookeepers at Tokyo’s Tama Zoo. Not only do they have to feed the animals, clean up after them and painstakingly make sure each and every one is well-treated and in good health, but one lucky employee gets to dress up in an animal suit every year and pretend to get shot with a tranquilizer dart for the zoo’s annual animal escape drill.

This year, about 60 zoo employees chased one unfortunate soul wearing a man-sized zebra costume while he tried vainly to gain freedom, reported Agence France-Presse. The training was very thorough. The fake zebra got agitated, knocked down one zoo staffer and was finally tranquilized by his colleagues.

Naoki Tabata, the zoo director, told ITN News that there is a performance aspect to the drill, but it is also helpful in increasing staff awareness in what to do during an emergency.

The Tama Zoo’s 2011 annual drill featured one staff in a team mascot-style tiger costume, noted CBS News.

Each year the zoo’s newest employee gets to wear the animal suit, and while year’s honoree was certainly game (get it?) he did say there’s one thing he’d like to see changed for future drills.

“I’d have to warn them that the inside does indeed become a bit stinky with sweat and so they should think about how to deal with that,” ITN quoted Yosuke Tanaka as saying.

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