TOKYO, June 28, 2012 (AFP) - Japanese zookeepers who lost 30 squirrels after a typhoon damaged their enclosure said Thursday their recovery efforts had exceeded expectations -- with 38 animals back in captivity.
The bushy-tailed rodents made a break for freedom when a tree felled by a typhoon last week cut through netting at Tokyo's Inokashira Park Zoo. But after days of trapping the sharp-toothed creatures, a spokeswoman for the zoo said the haul had been more successful than expected and a total of 38 had been "recaptured". "We still receive about four to five reports a day from witnesses," said Eri Tsushima. "We will continue setting traps as long as people keep reporting squirrel sightings to us." Most of the animals were caught in the surrounding park area, and Tsushima said keepers would be checking that all of those taken into captivity had the microchips the zoo implanted into its own squirrels. She acknowledged that the ranks of recaptured animals could have been swollen by the wild squirrels who live in the park. "We simply don't know yet," she said.
The mass breakout came a month after the recapture of a Humbolt penguin that spent 82 days at large in and around Tokyo Bay after bolting its aquarium, garnering a large media following around the world. The aquarium is now holding a contest asking visitors to suggest a name for that runaway, which so far has only been known as penguin No. 337.