Zoo squirrels saw their chance, split


Staff Writer

Typhoon Guchol took a heavy toll across Japan, leaving one person dead, one missing and dozens injured, but also may have brought good luck to some animals and bad luck to Tokyo zookeepers.

Some 30 Japanese squirrels escaped from Inokashira Park Zoo in western Tokyo on Wednesday morning through a hole in a surrounding fence that was created when a 120-year-old pine tree fell down in the storm, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government said.

By afternoon, six of the escapees were recaptured in Inokashira Park, said Mamoru Nakamura, a section chief in the metropolitan government.

A few traps were set up in the park and zoo workers armed with nets searched for the remaining squirrels around the area, Nakamura said.

“But it’s really difficult to find them because around lunchtime, squirrels tend to rest in holes. . . . And even if we find one, they are very fast, so it’s hard to capture them,” Nakamura said. “We hope to catch them all, but some may end up settling in the wild.”

According to Nakamura, the squirrels are about 20 cm long with 15- to 17-cm-long tails.

Japanese squirrels won’t usually attack humans, but zookeepers are urging people not to chase or try to capture them.

The metropolitan government is asking people to call Inokashira Park Zoo if they spot any of the rodents. It can be reached at (0422) 46-1100.