Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Earthquake: Animal Early Alarm

I, similar to every DC resident, was truly rocked and terrified by yesterday's 5.8 earthquake.

To my Cali friends, it may be only a tremor for you, but for us East coast folks - unfamiliar with the shifting of Earth's plates - this was a big event.

After I got me Earth legs back, with the help of a couple evening libations, I surfed the net for earthquake stories.

My attention was grabbed by a Washington Post story regarding the National Zoo's animals early earthquake warning:

The first warnings of the earthquake may have occurred at the National Zoo, where officials said some animals seemed to feel it coming before people did. The red ruffed lemurs began “alarm calling” a full 15 minutes before the quake hit, zoo spokeswoman Pamela Baker-Masson said. In the Great Ape House, Iris, an orangutan, let out a guttural holler 10 seconds before keepers felt the quake. The flamingos huddled together in the water seconds before people felt the rumbling. The rheas got excited. And the hooded mergansers — a kind of duck — dashed for the safety of the water. read more

When I read that, I instantly recalled the Asian 2004 pre-tsunami animal behavior:

Before giant waves slammed into Sri Lanka and India coastlines ten days ago, wild and domestic animals seemed to know what was about to happen and fled to safety.

According to eyewitness accounts, the following events happened:

• Elephants screamed and ran for higher ground.

• Dogs refused to go outdoors.

• Flamingos abandoned their low-lying breeding areas.

• Zoo animals rushed into their shelters and could not be enticed to come back out.

As the animal experts explain:

Wildlife experts believe animals' more acute hearing and other senses might enable them to hear or feel the Earth's vibration, tipping them off to approaching disaster long before humans realize what's going on. read more

As for me, case close - I do not need an expert - if I see masses of animals heading for the hills, I will follow and ask questions later...

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