Home Society & Culture Person in Orangutan Costume Goes Wild in Tokyo Zoo as Part of Yearly Training Exercise [Video]

Person in Orangutan Costume Goes Wild in Tokyo Zoo as Part of Yearly Training Exercise [Video]

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It’s not like there’s much difference between a man in an orangutan costume and an actual orangutan, right?

Every year, just as winter is beginning to loosen its grip on much of Japan, someone dresses up like a wild animal and is chased down by zookeepers holding nets and wielding tranquilizer dart shooting rifles. As strange as this may sound, this is an annual training exercise conducted every February in the Tokyo area. This year the event took place at the Tama Zoological Park in Hino City on Friday, February 22 and involved a zoo employee dressed up like an orangutan.

Approximately 70 people participated in this year’s drill, which centered around what could happen in the aftermath of an earthquake. As one group of zoo employees practiced evacuating park visitors, another group went after a park employee wearing a full body orangutan costume, complete with a full head piece. Much like previous years, this costumed worker was a recent hire.

Always thorough, the park even came up with a reason for why the “orangutan” had escaped: it used a tree that had been knocked down into its enclosure by the fake earthquake that marked the start of the training exercise.

Among the many interesting moments during the exercise was one in which the fake primate approached a zoo worker who was holding a branch and snatching it from him before walking away in a very upright and human-like fashion.

The escaped orangutan faces off with a zookeeper before snatching a stick from him

Another notable moment involved the orangutan attacking a worker. Video of the exercise shows the attacked worker being attended to by park staff.

Zoo staff attend to their fallen comrade

Despite the fake orangutan’s best efforts, though, in the end zookeepers succeeded in capturing it in a climactic scene in which a zookeeper shot the animal with a fake tranquilizer dart, leaving the primate “unconscious.”

Zookeepers surround the escaped orangutan

With the orangutan sedated, zoo workers proceeded to poke it with a stick in order to make sure it was in fact out cold. They then tossed some nets on the costumed zoo worker before loading it onto a truck and driving off, thus marking the end of this yearly tradition.

To watch footage of this year’s training exercise at Tama Zoological Park, check out the video below

Though it may seem a bit hard to believe, this peculiar training exercise is nothing new and quite well known. It was 1977 when the Tama Zoological Park conducted the exercise for the first time. Now the Tama Zoo and Tokyo’s famous Ueno Zoo take turns hosting the event each year. In previous years, participants have had to chase down other “animals,” including a chimpanzee, a malaysian sun bear, a lion, a zebra and a black rhinoceros.

Going by the usual schedule next year the event will be held sometime in February at Ueno Zoo. It is not known yet what animal will be chased down, but if the Ueno Zoo staff really wants a challenge, they should go with the popular otter mascot Chiitan. This guy will certainly put their skills to the test.

To learn about previous editions of this amusing training exercise, check out the articles below

Man In Bear Costume Goes Wild In Tokyo Zoo, Gets Taken Down By Tranquilizer Dart [Video]
Man In Bear Costume Goes Wild In Tokyo Zoo, Gets Taken Down By Tranquilizer Dart [Video]

Source: Jiji Press, Mainichi Shinbuna
Images: 多摩動物公園 職員がオランウータンに扮し「脱出対策訓練」(Mainichi Shinbun)

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