Lionesses astonished by zoo escape drill

Posted on 28 June 2019

A zoo in Japan recently ramped up the drama with an escape drill demonstration that involved ‘lions’ on the loose.

The Tobe Zoo in Japan’s Ehime Prefecture tested a lion escape drill, complete with a lion subject… of sorts. A Tobe Zoo staff member dressed up in a cartoon-like lion costume, and paraded around the zoo premises. Staff members set up a fake fence structure behind which other staff stood on guard. In one example, captured on video, the ‘lion’ hurtled into the flimsy, makeshift fence.

Another scene depicts the ‘lion’ in a tarred parking enclosure with a boundary adjacent to the zoo. Two real lionesses from the zoo inquisitively peered over the nearby ledge, appearing astonished as they watched a white zoo response van chase after the fleeing lion. The ‘lion’ dramatically falls to the floor just in front of the vehicle, whereafter staff attend to it, and various zoo staff come running to the fallen big cat with a net, wrapping it up from all sides. The escaped-lion recovery protocol completed, it’s fair to say that the drills were successful.

The two lionesses sat rapt as all of this unfolded before them. One’s paws hung huge and imposing over the rocky ledge, while the other sat poised with a facial expression of disbelief.

This is not the first time a Japanese zoo has jazzed up a mundane, but necessary, safety drill. In 2014, the Ueno Zoo in Tokyo, Japan’s oldest zoo, staged a roaringly funny escape drill featuring someone in a gorilla costume, and then again in 2016 but with a ‘zebra’. The theatrics are incredibly funny, always attracting thousands of views online when the video footage of them goes viral, but both zoos do well to highlight the reality of needing safety and retrieval operations. Personally, it feels good to know that these measures are in place, lest a real, roaring lion really does find his or her way out.

Image: Screenshot via YouTube/Ibex Studio

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