It was only a drill. Staff at the Tama Zoological Park in Tokyo recently chased an unlucky coworker dressed in a droopy chimpanzee suit during an escaped animal drill. Eventually, the zookeepers shot at the costumed human with a tranquilliser gun, loaded the poor guy into a truck and, hopefully, paid for all the beers at happy hour.
This seems like a cruel tradition, although it remains unclear whether the tranquilliser gun was loaded or not. (News reports offer conflicting accounts.) Regardless, you should definitely watch the video of the incident in full:
While the drill itself seems like a sick joke, there’s actually some solid precedent for practising how to take down an escaped chimp at a Japanese zoo. Less than a year ago a male chimp named Chacha busted out of the Yagiyama Zoological Park in Sendai and led police on a two-hour chase before swinging on live power lines like a goddamn maniac. Eventually, zookeepers shot Chacha with a tranquilliser dart and caught him in a blanket after he fell from the power lines.
And would you believe that this isn’t the first time the Tama Zoo dressed up one of its employees in an animal costume and chased them down in the name of safety? The half-century-old park has been doing this annually since 1977. Last year, they dropped an employee wearing a zebra costume. In 2015, it was someone in a hilariously cartoonish snow leopard outfit. In 2014, it was a plush gorilla with an attitude. But 2011 was a real treat, because that year zookeepers subdued a dude in a Tigger costume. The Atlantic has a whole photo series on the tradition.
There are many questions to be asked about the Tama Zoo, and its cruel treatment of unfortunate employees. The main one, of course, is how the staff decides who gets to wear the animal suit. Hopefully, there’s bonus money involved.