Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Escaped chimp leads zookeepers on chase around Osaka zoo

escaped zoo chimpAn escaped chimpanzee led zookeepers on a chase around Osaka's Tennoji Zoo on Monday before being shot with a tranquilizer gun and netted, officials said.

The 24-year-old female chimpanzee, named "Puteri," fled from its unlocked cage at about 11:25 a.m. on Monday, and ran for about 300 meters around the zoo. When the chimp stopped near the cage of a polar bear that had been let out, a veterinarian and other zoo officials shot it with a tranquilizer gun and netted it.

Since the zoo was not open on Monday, there were no visitors at the zoo and no one was injured. Nevertheless, zoo officials expressed regret over the incident.

"It was something that should never happen at a zoo where people enjoy themselves," said Minoru Miyashita, the head of the facility. "We deeply regret this and are sorry for what happened."

Zoo officials said the chimpanzee had been put in its cage overnight. Workers were to give the chimpanzee anesthetic ahead of its yearly health check, but forgot to lock the cage, leaving the door open. The door leading outside from a corridor in front of the cage was shut, but Puteri turned the doorknob by herself and opened it.

It was reportedly the first time since 1993 that an animal had escaped from its cage at the zoo. In that year a spectacled bear escaped. In an earlier incident in 1975, a leopard escaped from its enclosure.

Story here.

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