Seven rare marmots, eight porcupines and a fox have made a break for freedom, making an escape attempt from the Kiev Zoo in Ukraine, notorious for high death rates among its inmates.

The porcupines and the fox were neither prickly nor sly enough to make it far away and were intercepted near the zoo's ticket office, according to Ukraine's Segodnya newspaper.

However, the bobak marmots turned out to be more sophisticated escapees - they dug a tunnel so deep that the zookeepers still cannot reach them.

"They have burrowed a tunnel and dug in. It's natural for them. Inappropriate gauze was used during the cage construction. It has rusted and bobaks dug holes. We are trying to recover them; but the deeper we dig, the deeper they burrow," said the director of the zoo Aleksey Tolstouhov.

The Kiev Zoo is infamous for the conditions in which it keeps its inhabitants. German tabloid Bild listed it as one of the five worst zoos in the world and claimed that its director should be jailed. The tabloid pointed out the very high death rates at the zoo.

Life in captivity in the Ukrainian capital's zoo does not seem to be at all pleasant - 62 animals expired last year, among them eight mammals, 20 birds and 34 invertebrates. Recently, a Japanese deer and a young zebra also passed away. The zoo owners did not provide any details on what may have caused the deaths.

Last June, a black-crowned crane jumped at the opportunity to fly away. The bird landed on a highway, almost causing a traffic accident.

Kiev authorities vowed to establish a supervisory board to oversee the troubled zoo.