Employees and visitors take part in an emergency drill on the assumption that a polar bear has escaped from its enclosure at the Sapporo Maruyama Zoo in Sapporo on Nov. 13. (Hiraku Toda)

SAPPORO--"Attention, please! A polar bear has escaped!"

Immediately after the emergency announcement, about 60 visitors at Sapporo Maruyama Zoo in the capital of Hokkaido were instructed to evacuate to indoor facilities, while employees took their assigned positions.

The "polar bear" then came tramping out of the brush and onto the pavement, roaming the nearly empty grounds of the zoo.

Thankfully it wasn't a real one, but rather one of the zoo workers decked out in a white hazmat-like suit.

The drill on Nov. 13 was staged by the zoo on the assumption that a door had malfunctioned at the polar bear enclosure, allowing one of the creatures to escape.

A more lifelike bear suit was not used, as it would have distressed other animals, according to the zoo.

During the drill, employees successfully blocked the path of the bear with poles and netting. An employee then fired a tranquilizer gun, causing it to fall to the ground.

The actor was then swiftly replaced with a white plastic foam bear. An employee shot a white net at it, and after ensuring that the bear was immobilized, helmeted staff members secured it with green netting. The dangerous escapee was then loaded onto a vehicle and wheeled off.

The entire drill took about 30 minutes.

"I was nervous, because I have no idea what I would do if a real bear got loose," said Emiko Horikawa, 68, a resident who participated in the drill, playing the role of a visitor.

"It's critical to follow the instructions of zoo employees as we did today," she added.

The zoo has conducted the drill annually, this being the 14th, on a day when it is closed.