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These Zoo Simulations Of Lion And Polar Bear "Escapes" Have To Be Seen To Be Believed

James Felton

James Felton

Senior Staff Writer

clockJun 27 2019, 12:35 UTC

Just like fire drills in work or school, occasionally zoos need to test out their protocols for how to act in an emergency situation. The kind of emergency situations zoos may face, however, are a little more fun to simulate than your traditional "everyone head outside and stand in a line, there's a pretend fire" situation.

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In a video that went viral this week, people saw a drill in action at Tobe Zoological Park, in Ehime, Japan, when staff performed a lion escape drill. Not going to lie, it's pretty hilarious to watch. Pay extra special attention to the actual lions' faces, which look affronted that they may be being mocked.

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In the video, a zoo worker acting as a bewildered lion that has just gained its freedom and is now not sure what to do with it stumbles around in front of staff and onlookers. This particular simulation was based on the scenario that there had been an earthquake resulting in the escape of a single lion. Probably why it looks so confused.

The zoo staff tackled the "lion" using nets and a tranquilizer gun, while the actual lions can be seen looking bemused, with what can definitely be described as "what the hell are these humans doing?" expressions.

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The team was able to subdue and capture the human in a lion costume, but not before they viciously mauled one of the workers holding the fencing.

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These drills aren't that unusual, and most zoos carry them out every year for such an eventuality – if you think that is an exaggeration, you can read about successful escapees here, here, here, here, here, here, and here – and several people commented that when they had worked at zoos, they too had carried out similar exercises.

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Some zoos just put more effort into realism than others. One Twitter user commented, "I worked in a zoo and can confirm they do these drills like this. One time they did a rhino drill and very slowly drove a golf cart around with a rhino label on it lmao."

Sounds far-fetched? Here are two zookeepers in Tokyo dressed up in a rhino costume going on a pretend rampage. (Turn on the sound for this, the music is amazing.)

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But our personal favorite – if we had to choose – would be this drill at Ueno Zoo in Tokyo, where a guy in a polar bear outfit goes full method, taking out several visitors to the zoo in a mad polar bear frenzy before getting tranqed in the butt.

Or this one of a particularly melodramatic zebra.


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