Zoo Animals Predict Earthquake Via Sulking, Belch-Vocalizing

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You thought you’d put the earthquake behind you — but don’t get too confident, because apparently these mini-quakes keep striking poor old Mineral, VA. If you want to have some advance info on the next time the mid-Atlantic fault line decides to go berzerk, we recommend looking to the animals. Lore tells us that animals have a sixth sense for these kinds of things — consider the snakes and weasels that fled the ancient Greek city of Helice a few days before an earthquake destroyed the place.

The National Zoo in D.C. sent out a press release detailing how their animals reacted before/during/after the quake; we suggest you study their account closely, and then watch your own lemurs/apes/cuttlefish for signs of impending doom. If your giant elephant shrew refuses to come out for his afternoon feeding, it might not be because he’s sulking — it could be that he senses something! Oh, and don’t pay any attention to the oryx or the pandas.

  • About five to ten seconds before the quake, many of the apes, including Kyle (an orangutan) and Kojo (a Western lowland gorilla), abandoned their food and climbed to the top of the tree-like structure in the exhibit.
  • About three seconds before the quake, Mandara (a gorilla) let out a shriek and collected her baby, Kibibi, and moved to the top of the tree structure as well.
  • Iris (an orangutan) began “belch vocalizing”—an unhappy/upset noise normally reserved for extreme irritation—before the quake and continued this vocalization following the quake.
  • The red ruffed lemurs sounded an alarm call about 15 minutes before the quake and then again just after it occurred.
  • The black-and-rufous giant elephant shrew hid in his habitat and refused to come out for afternoon feeding.
  • Keepers were feeding the beavers and hooded mergansers (a species of duck) when the earthquake hit. The ducks immediately jumped into the pool. The beavers stopped eating, stood on their hind legs and looked around, then got into the water, too. They all stayed in the water. Within an hour, some of the beavers returned to land to continue eating.
  • Damai (a female Sumatran tiger) jumped at the start of the earthquake in a startled fashion. Her behavior returned to normal after the quake.
  • The Zoo has a flock of 64 flamingos. Just before the quake, the birds rushed about and grouped themselves together. They remained huddled during the quake.
  • The Prezwalski’s horses and scimitar-horned oryx hardly noticed although those that were inside did amble outside eventually.
  • According to keepers, the giant pandas did not appear to respond to the earthquake.

More zoo animal reactions detailed here.



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