Ueno Zoo’s “Escaped Animal Drill” is one of Tokyo’s oddest annual events, but one that has built up a cult following among elementary school-aged children, and lovers of the absurd. Zookeepers dress up in elaborate animal costumes and make a break for it, while 150 of their colleagues, together with police and emergency workers, practice how they would handle the situation if an animal really were to break loose.
Recent years have seen fake tranquilizer darts shot into zookeepers in zebra and rhino costumes, and nets thrown over men in monkey suits. This has become so popular, that zoos owned by the Japanese government (most zoos) have adopted the same practice. The Ueno Zoo practices this every other year in the beginning of February, where Tama Zoo does the drill the years Ueno Zoo does not.
Know Before You Go
The zoo is located in Ueno Park, a 5 minute walk from Ueno JR station (Park exit), Ueno station (Hibiya subway), Ueno (Keisei line ) or Nezu station (Chiyoda line).