(CNN) – With its long neck, rounded torso, tail feathers and lumbering gait, the giant animal being chased around Thai zoos by net-welding vets appears to be an ostrich.

But when his pursuers catch up, the strange beast’s true nature is revealed — and the clue lies in his black sneakers.

It’s a grown man, in full ostrich costume, and his job is to train staff at the Chiang Mai Zoo on how to respond if an animal escapes.

Videos shared by the zoo with CNN Demonstrate that the staff member is ready for his or her larger role; His face is plastered with white paint, his hands are wrapped in a giant ball of cloth, and a fake ostrich head is tied on his long “neck”.

Chiang Mai Zoo in Thailand conducts a practice drill to respond to an animal escape on August 23.

Chiang Mai Zoo

The bizarre scene that followed, in which he was chased into the zoo’s Africa zone on Tuesday, would not have appeared on a TV show or an avant garde play, but was actually part of an annual drill. get away

The zoo said in a statement on Facebook, “The objective of the exercise was to build readiness to enable real-world situation management and prepare measures when animals escape.”

The situation triggered “a reporting system … down the chain of command” and “required teams of veterinarians and staff to control the area to catch the ostrich and return it to its enclosure,” it added.

Staff at Chiang Mai Zoo in Thailand, including a man dressed as an ostrich, pose after a practice drill for escaped animals.

Staff at Chiang Mai Zoo in Thailand, including a man dressed as an ostrich, pose after a practice drill for escaped animals.

Chiang Mai Zoo

The drill also brought laughter to staff members, some of whom can be heard laughing out loud in the video as the man-ostrich “runs” and moves around the zoo, bobbing its body up and down to mimic the gait of an ostrich.

Others, meanwhile, chase with nets by hand. When their target is finally cornered, they put a hood over his head with the help of a giant net used to block his path and lead him back to his side with a big smile on his face.

Previous iterations of the drill were equally colorful. In 2019, a “kangaroo” that jumped out of its enclosure was actually a staff member wearing a onesie and red boxing gloves.

Top image: A staff member at the Chiang Mai Zoo in Thailand dresses up as an ostrich during an annual practice drill to deal with escaped animals. Credit: Chiang Mai Zoo

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