Skip to main content

Japanese zookeepers successfully capture fake gorilla

By Wilfred Chan, CNN
February 7, 2014 -- Updated 0657 GMT (1457 HKT)
Staff at Japan's Ueno Zoo practiced capturing escaped animals by chasing around one of their colleagues wearing a gorilla suit. Staff at Japan's Ueno Zoo practiced capturing escaped animals by chasing around one of their colleagues wearing a gorilla suit.
Monkeying around
Monkeying around
Monkeying around
Monkeying around
Monkeying around
Rip-off rhino
Not impressed
  • Japanese zoo practiced capturing escaped animals by chasing colleague in gorilla suit
  • "I tried to feel what an animal might feel," said zookeeper wearing the costume
  • In 2004, the drill was conducted with two men inside rhinoceros costume

(CNN) -- Could you catch a wild gorilla? What about a person dressed as a gorilla?

This week, staff at Tokyo's Ueno Zoo practiced capturing escaped animals by chasing around one of their colleagues wearing a gorilla suit.

Visitors gaped as scores of helmet-wearing keepers surrounded the "gorilla" with cars and nets. Staff then pretended to tranquilize their coworker, who swooned dramatically and collapsed to the ground.

The acting ape was immediately wrapped in a large net and hauled away on a truck.

The escaped animal drill at the Tokyo zoo is conducted every other year, and this time zookeeper Natsumi Uno was chosen to wear the animal costume.

"In our work there may be times when we need to capture an animal, but we would never be the ones being captured," Uno told reporters.

"So I tried to feel what an animal might feel and realized when they were on the run they would be scared. That's how I felt."

But some onlookers were barely moved. One Japanese user posted on Twitter, "Ueno Zoo's escape drill wasn't tense at all."

Another wrote, "The gorilla escape drill was so laid back! Made me laugh."

The practice is part of the city's earthquake preparedness drills, where city workers prepare for scenarios that may occur in the event of an earthquake.

That includes capturing raging beasts.

In the past, the Ueno Zoo has tried using different animal outfits: In 2004, two men ran around the zoo while wearing a giant papier-mâché rhinoceros over their heads.

The technique isn't just Japanese -- in 2012, the Franklin Park Zoo in Boston, Massachusetts practiced capturing an employee in a giraffe costume. The year before that, zookeepers in China "caught" a man dressed as Tigger from the "Winnie the Pooh" cartoon.

Of course, real animals are more difficult to catch.

When an actual monkey escaped from the Ueno Zoo in 2010, it took six hours before officials finally netted it in the basement of a neighboring restaurant.

Part of complete coverage on
August 27, 2014 -- Updated 0023 GMT (0823 HKT)
Wilson Raj Perumal tells CNN how he rigged World Cup games: "I was giving orders to the coach."
August 28, 2014 -- Updated 0046 GMT (0846 HKT)
A 9-year-old girl learning to fire a submachine gun accidentally killed her instructor at a shooting range, according to Arizona authorities.
August 26, 2014 -- Updated 1255 GMT (2055 HKT)
ISIS has made surprise gains in Iraq and Syria in recent months, but may begin to suffer setbacks on the battlefield.
August 26, 2014 -- Updated 1844 GMT (0244 HKT)
The fear of Russian invasion is receding but peace may still be tricky to find.
August 27, 2014 -- Updated 1228 GMT (2028 HKT)
Was a police officer justified in shooting and killing Michael Brown?
August 27, 2014 -- Updated 0815 GMT (1615 HKT)
Don't like the country you live in? Meet the people who created their own "micronations."
August 27, 2014 -- Updated 2157 GMT (0557 HKT)
The signs exist that indicate U.S. airstrikes into Syria are on the way.
August 27, 2014 -- Updated 1649 GMT (0049 HKT)
The mother of a hostage freed after two years captivity says it's not time to party.
August 26, 2014 -- Updated 0946 GMT (1746 HKT)
We asked you what you would like to know about Ebola. Experts answer some of your most common questions and concerns.
CNN joins the fight to end modern-day slavery by shining a spotlight on its horrors and highlighting success stories.
Browse through images from CNN teams around the world that you don't always see on news reports.
August 26, 2014 -- Updated 0600 GMT (1400 HKT)
"I just love it when I get milk-to-dark converts," says Kerrin Rousset, before she leads a small cocoa-hungry crowd through Zurich's Old Town.