Why a Tokyo Zoo Let a ‘Snow Leopard’ Escape on Purpose

(TOKYO) — Visitors to a zoo in Tokyo got a front row seat to a slightly unusual drill this week.

At the Tama Zoological Park in the Tokyo suburb of Hino, 70 zookeepers worked together to contain an escaped snow leopard.

But rather than face razor-sharp claws and teeth, the zookeepers faced a fellow employee acting out the part of the snow leopard in a suit.

This isn’t the first time the zoo has used an employee for an escaped animal drill, according to the AFP news agency. In past years, the zoo has had to deal with an escaped “zebra” and “gorilla,” according to reports.

Belying the cute costume, the drill is serious business and is designed to prepare for a real emergency. In this case, the “leopard” charged one employee and knocked him out before it was subdued via tranquilizer.

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