DC Zoo Animals Sensed Quake

Apes starting climbing seconds before ground started shaking
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 25, 2011 3:43 AM CDT
DC Zoo Animals Sensed Quake
A Western Lowland Gorilla thumps its chest at the Smithsonian's National Zoo.   (Getty Images)

In a mysterious phenomenon that has been observed since ancient times, animals at the National Zoo in Washington, DC, appear to have sensed Tuesday's earthquake before humans did. Seconds before the ground began to shake, gorillas and orangutans dropped their food, grabbed their young, and climbed as high as they could. The zoo's 64 flamingos huddled together, and an elephant made an unusual low-pitched noise just before the earthquake was felt, zookeepers tell the Washington Post.

Red-ruffled lemurs sounded an alarm cry a full 15 minutes before the quake. During the quake itself, snakes writhed wildly, beavers jumped into ponds, the Komodo dragon hid, deer ran around in confusion, but pandas remained unruffled. The apes and other creatures who sensed the quake coming may have been reacting to the weak primary wave that a quake generates some 15 seconds before the ground shakes, but it is possible that the animals could have been reacted to signals still undiscovered by humans, a government seismologist says. (More East Coast earthquake stories.)

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