25 August 2011

Zoo animals went bonkers before the earthquake

From a report in the Washington Post:
It happened a little before 2 p.m. Primate keeper K.C. Braesch was standing just a few feet away when Iris emitted a loud, guttural cry, known to scientists as belch-vocalizing. Iris then scrambled to the top of her enclosure...

...a gorilla, Mandara, shrieked and grabbed her baby, Kibibi, racing to the top of a climbing structure just seconds before the ground began to shake dramatically. Two other apes — an orangutan, Kyle, and a gorilla, Kojo — already had dropped their food and skedaddled to higher turf...

The 64 flamingos seemed to sense the tumult a number of seconds in advance as well, clustering together in a nervous huddle before the quake hit. One of the zoo’s elephants made a low-pitched noise as if to communicate with two other elephants. And red-ruffed lemurs emitted an alarm cry a full 15 minutes before the temblor, the zoo said. During the quake, the zoo grounds were filled with howls and cries. The snakes, normally inert in the middle of the day, writhed and slithered. Beavers stood on their hind legs and then jumped into a pond. Murphy the Komodo dragon ran for cover. Lions resting outside suddenly stood up and stared at their building as the walls shook. Damai, a Sumatran tiger, leaped as if startled but quickly settled down. Some animals remained agitated for the rest of the day, wouldn’t eat and didn’t go to sleep on their usual schedule... 
I love stories like this.


  1. And I think such anecdotal "evidence" is likely nonsense. I read several posts after the quake by animal owners who said their pets napped or lounged right up to the quake (or through it).

  2. From US Geological Survey, "We can easily explain the cause of unusual animal behavior seconds before humans feel an earthquake. Very few humans notice the smaller P wave that travels the fastest from the earthquake source and arrives before the larger S wave. But many animals with more keen senses are able to feel the P wave seconds before the S wave arrives. As for sensing an impending earthquake days or weeks before it occurs, that's a different story"

    It has a good summary of what scientists know and don't know about animal behavior and earthquakes.


  3. Interestingly enough this reminds me of a time when an earthquake hit my town. I was feeling sick, and I had one of my cats sleeping next to me. Then all of a sudden, she got up quickly and rushed underneath the bed I was on. The walls and windows of the room shook during a small earthquake we had.

  4. I'm skeptical about this. Sounds like confirmation bias. Animals are always going bonkers. That's why we call them animals. We only take note of it when it is followed by an earthquake. And after an earthquake we only take note of the animals that were going bonkers at the right time.

    People are animals too. I'm sure lots of people were going bonkers before the earthquake. But nobody is there to observe us and conclude that those of us who were acting bonkers before the quake somehow have special "animal" powers of prediction.

  5. Other than P waves, it's suspected that some animals detect Radon in the air.

    It does not occur in our atmosphere in large quantities, but fissures in the bedrock that precede an earthquake are apparently able to release it.

    I don't claim to be right, mind. But it's a nice starting point for googling and making up your mind, yourself.

  6. Look up how many wild animals died in the great Tsunami... There are lots of noise and rumbles emitted from a earthquake that humans cannot sense. How hard is it to believe that an animal can?

    Paul & BJN, do you believe in dog whistles? Or are those non-sense, too?

  7. @ anon

    I accept the truth behind claims of dog whistles.

  8. C'mon people,animals are perceptive.Man is perceptive too, but he's busy trying to make money.


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