A runaway zebra yesterday led police on a dramatic chase across a golf course in Japan, until its bid for freedom ended in death when it collapsed in a water trap.
The creature’s odyssey, which was broadcast live on national television, saw officers in hot pursuit as they tried — in vain — to recapture it alive.
After unsuccessfully attempting to corral the stripy animal, vets shot it with a tranquilizer dart — only to watch as it plunged into a small lake on the golf course.
“It collapsed in the pond, so we hurriedly pulled it ashore, but its heart had already stopped beating,” said Takahiro Taniguchi, a police spokesman in Gifu Prefecture.
“Veterinarians performed cardiac massage,” he said, but it was not enough to prevent the “bitter aftertaste” of the animal’s demise.
The zebra had bolted from the Mikuni West Farm in neighboring Aichi Prefecture.
The failed attempt to recapture the creature came one month after a Tokyo zoo held a drill practicing this very eventuality.
Every year, a zookeeper dresses as an animal and stages an escape, giving colleagues the opportunity to hone their techniques.
This year’s creature was a zebra, which was successfully collared and returned to its pen.
However, as if to prove that practice does not always make perfect, this week’s real life response did not quite go to plan.
Ueno Zoo, which staged the zebra escape drill last month, said the animals are easily panicked.
Japan has previously had more success with animal escapes.
In 2012, a penguin on the run from a Tokyo aquarium outwitted authorities for 82 days before being caught.
There were more than 30 sightings of the 60cm-tall bird, known only as Penguin 337, who was spotted at various locations, including swimming in Tokyo Bay.
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