We all know how humanity reacts to a 5.8 magnitude earthquake—the avalanche of sarcastic tweets and political gamesmanship was widely documented on Tuesday. But how about the animal kingdom? Thanks to the zookeepers at the Smithsonian National Zoological Park in Washington, DC, a detailed account of how the zoo's flamingos, snakes, lions, beavers and pandas reacted to the 10-15 second tremors has been recorded. Here's your animal kingdom earthquake breakdown:
Great apes According to zoo officials, the apes were feeding when the earthquake struck. The zoo's orangutan is pictured to the left. "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."
Reptiles and snakes According to the zoo, the snakes and reptiles received quite a scare. To the left, is the zoo's Komodo dragon. "All the snakes began writhing during the quake (copperheads, cotton mouth, false water cobra, etc.). Normally, they remain inactive during the day. Murphy, the Zoo’s Komodo dragon, sought shelter inside.
Beavers These little guys were a little more composed when the quake hit. "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."
Great cats Apparently, the female tiger Damai was the only big cat spooked by the quake. "The lion pride was outside. They all stood still and faced the building, which rattled during the quake. All settled down within minutes. Damai (a female Sumatran tiger) jumped at the start of the earthquake in a startled fashion. Her behavior returned to normal after the quake."
Birds Somewhat predictably, the zoo's flamingos were spooked. "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."
For a full list of animal reactions to the great quake of 2011, see the zoo's website
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
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