Walking down the street in Tokyo, you never know what you might bump into, especially if you happened to have been around Aoyama Itchome Station in Minato Ward on 14 November. During the afternoon, a masked palm civet was seen darting around the streets by several witnesses.

The masked palm civet was connected to the SARS outbreak about a decade ago and unleashes an anal spray when threatened. But that didn’t stop passers-by from trying to get the best photos for their Twitter feeds… Not at all.

From about noon to 4pm several witnesses tweeted pictures of the civet along with some insightful commentary.

“Civet in Aoyama now.”

“The civet is scrambling to the back of Aoyama Itchome Honda.”

Sometime after 3pm the police began efforts to capture the mammal. First they chased it up a tree and surrounded it.

“Taking pictures of the civet mid-capture in front of Aoyama Twin Towers now.”

“Civet capture strategy is underway in Aoyama Itchome.”

Unfortunately the civet capture strategy was a tragic failure. Judging by the photo tweeted, two officers were approaching the tree with a long net and plastic garbage pail to catch the animal. However, they approached from the building-side of the sidewalk which would cause the civet to escape onto the street if provoked.

“The civet jumped down from the tree and popped onto the main street, where it was struck by a car. Very sad.”

Although masked palm civets are mostly found around Southeast Asia, it’s not too uncommon to come across one in Japan. Only a few days earlier, one was spotted by Diet member Masahisa Sato outside a Tokyo hotel about 2km from Aoyama Station.

“A civet was seen at the Hotel New Tani[sic]. The photo was taken at the side of the Banquet Hall. Looks like it’s building a nest.”

So if you happen to see a civet or similar wild animal loose in the streets, do it a favor and call a trained animal control professional rather than the police. They suck at catching things safely.

Source: Netlab (Japanese)