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Escaped Animals in Tokyo

by Sylvia Deutsch

News usually isn’t amusing. But every now and then even the news comes up with a stunning, funny or even scary story about escaped animals in Tokyo. Japan has several of these kind of these stories that can quickly become popular all over the country. Here are some of the most famous examples of animals (either escaped animals or just on the loose) in Japan.

Escaped Animals: A Poodle Holds Up Traffic at Haneda Airport

Escaped Animals

Photo by chili71 on Pixabay.com

In October 2017, a poodle escaped from his flight to Okinawa at Haneda Airport and disturbed the daily traffic. The dog’s escape led to a chase across the flight line and paralyzed flight traffic, causing delays for hundreds of travelers across 14 different airlines. The poodle enjoyed his freedom for about 40 minutes until his owner was called on to catch him.

A Pony Tours Shibuya

Escaped animals

Photo by Alexas_Fotos on Pixabay.com

In December 2016, a pony named Charlotte escaped from a pet shop in Tokyo. By the time the staff realized Charlotte was missing, he (yes, a boy pony with a girl name) was already touring Shibuya and several other Tokyo spots. Finally, Charlotte stopped to eat some grass at Kokugakuin University’s campus. The pet shop retrieved him without incident.


Giant Tortoise

escaped animals

Photo by Alexas_Fotos on Pixabay.com

Yes, even turtles can be a part of the list of escaped animals. In August 2016 a giant turtle called Aboo escaped from Shibukawa Animal Park. The zoo announced Tuesday a ¥500,000 cash reward for the return of the giant tortoise, hoping to encourage nearby residents to join the search. Two weeks later, a man and his teenage son found Aboo sitting in the bushes about 140 meters away from the spot where she made her getaway.


escaped animals

Photo by cubialpha on Pixabay.com

A female passenger on the Shinkansen spotted a snake wrapped around an armrest. She alerted the train’s conductor, who ordered an emergency stop. Police entered the train at Hamamatsu City and captured the limbless freeloader. No one knows if it was a wild snake or a pet, nor was it even the first time this had happened. A three-foot long Honduran milk snake once occupied a seat on the famous bullet train in 2011.

Humboldt Penguin

Escaped animals

Photo by 127071 on Pixabay.com

Even penguins are a part of the lists of escaped animals in Tokyo. In March 2012, a penguin named “337” managed to escape from his enclosure at the Tokyo Sea Life Park. After the 337 escaped, the aquarium launched an appeal for help and sent employees out searching. Over the course of two months, the penguin was seen enjoying its newfound freedom by swimming in the rivers running into Tokyo Bay. Keepers ended the penguin’s extended holiday after receiving several tips on the flightless bird’s location by catching it on the river bank.


escaped animals

Photo by skeeze on Pixabay.com

In January 2010 a wild Japanese macaque somehow managed to escape from Ueno Zoo. The Zoo staff recaptured the lost animal about six hours later, after a resident spotted it in the neighbourhood of a nearby restaurant.

There are many incidents involving monkeys in Japan. Monkey packs live in mountainous regions, and they sometimes come down to raid gardens, steal laundry, or tresspass in elementary schools.


Photo by PublicDomainPictures on Pixabay.com

In May 2006 a cow that was delivered to a Japanese slaughterhouse tried to escape his fade. During it’s dash for freedom, the cow lead two dozen police on a 3.7-mile car chase through Shinagawa and sent one man to the hospital unconscious. The 3-year-old cow eventually crashed headfirst into a metal fence fell and died. Slaughterhouse workers took the cow’s body away. In the end, no one knows whether the cow was processed into meat or not. I like to think it is still out there in spirit, still running.

Escaped Animal Drills

Every two years in February, Ueno Zoo holds an ‘Escaped Animal Drill’. Keepers need to practice what to do when an animal really disappears, because animal escapes do not happen very often.

During the drill, zookeepers dress up in animal mascot costumes and simulate a break out. Then their colleagues, police, and emergency workers practice how they would handle an animal escape situation. Recent years have seen fake tranquilizer darts shot into zookeepers in zebra and rhino costumes, and nets thrown over men in monkey suits.

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