My 12 year old shih-tzu may be a master of detecting thunderstorms and weaseling into my lap a few minutes before any thunder begins to rumble, but it turns out he’s not the only weatheranimal in town. According to staff from the National Zoo in Washington D.C., dozens of animals began acting strangely in the minutes leading up to the 5.8 magnitude earthquake that hit the East coast last week.
Within 15 minutes of the quake actually passing through, some animals began acting a bit agitated, to the point where zookeepers and workers were visibly noticing the abnormal behavior.
According to Branzie Smith, Senior Curator of Animal Care Sciences, the red ruffled lemurs were the first to sense something going on. “They started vocalizing and they went straight up into the trees, which is what they do in the wild if they sense danger.”
Ducks jumped for a dip in the water, usually quite inactive snakes began slithering around, and flamingos huddled in strangely close flocks. Even the elephants were standing alert, with one of them hiding and refusing to come out for feeding.
Once the earthquake struck, the zoo workers understood why there was such strange behavior going on throughout the zoo. Don Moore, Director of Animal Care, says the early alertness displays a refined sensory ability that allows animals to sense vibrations in the ground that could not be felt or heard by humans.
Earthquakes are the most difficult of natural disasters to predict, which in return makes them among the most deadly. Minutes ahead of time may not allow an entire city to flee to a safezone, but if animals truly do have a keen sense of when something is about to happen, maybe we should take a listen. I mean, I’ll admit I’m not the first person to take a lemur all that seriously, but if he’s telling me an earthquake is brewing I’m going to try and run for cover.