Kangaroos, aardvarks, lizards and pythons were among the 78 animals recorded as having fled captivity, with only 66 of them recovered.

In total, 217 animals disappeared between January 2010 and September last year, among them small creatures such as reptiles and birds, gone without a trace, the quarterly Animal Care report reveals.

Escapes were more common in enclosures that he public had access to, such as walk-in avaries.

The report also revealed some zoo visitors narrowly escaped being bitten by snakes, while some were roughed up by kangaroos, and others stalked by large birds.

One zookeeper’s arm was pinned by a giant tortoise, while a zoo-goer was bitten by a pelican.

Bites from pythons, bats and seals were among the most common injuries to staff.

The figures, obtained by Freedom of Information laws, apply to Werribee Open Range Zoo, Healesville Sanctuary and Royal Melbourne Zoo.

Jenny Gray, the head of Zoos Victoria, said: “We are constantly reviewing the training and development needs of our staff to make sure they and the animals are kept safe.”

Reports from 2005-2011 also revealed a zebra died while being transported to Perth Zoo; a bandicoot died when left behind in an experimental trap, while others suffered bloodshot eyes because tagging collars were too tight; a fur sea returned to the wild died inside a ‘pet-pack’ on the way to the water’s edge; and a flock of emus mauled to death six pademelons.