Thursday, June 21, 2012

The Great Squirrel Escape!

This Wednesday a strong typhoon hit Japan, causing widespread damage and at least one death. For thirty Japanese squirrels at Inokashira Park Zoo in Tokyo, however, the storm provided an unexpected opportunity for freedom. The high winds toppled a tree, tearing a hole in the netting that surrounds the squirrels' enclosure.

You'll never take me alive, copper!
Zoo workers using traps and nets captured eighteen of the squirrels by the next morning. However, twelve still remain at large, despite efforts to catch them using traps baited with their favorite foods.

The Japanese squirrel, which is similar to the eastern gray squirrel of North America but with ear tufts, is native to the Japanese islands of Honshu, Shikoku, and Kyushu. Although it is not considered endangered, numbers have declined in recent decades due to the fragmentation of its forest habitat, and the species has disappeared entirely from the island of Kyushu.

As workers continued their search for the remaining dozen AWOL squirrels, a zoo spokesperson issued a warning to the public stating that although squirrels "almost never attack humans," people should not try to chase or catch them. Whether or not they are recaptured, I hope that the squirrels are safe and comfortable, wherever they may be!

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