(ANIMAL SCIENCE) CHINA — While studies have shown dogs can possibly predict earthquakes, Chinese government researchers believe that other animals such as chickens, fish, and toads may also be capable of predicting quakes.
In the city of Nanjing, the seismological bureau has turned seven animal farms into seismic stations in which breeders take careful note of the animals’ daily activities. Twice a day, breeders on the farms update the seismological bureau about the behavior of the chickens, fish, and toads.
Before an earthquake occurs, researchers may describe animals as acting in an abnormal or unusual manner.
“Animals sometimes become stressed before an earthquake,” according to Zhao Bing, Nanjing Seismological Bureau’s chief of scientific monitoring.
Chickens flying atop trees, fish jumping out of water, and toads moving into unified groups are all signs of abnormal animal behavior.
“Birds can become ‘nervous’ – if their tails are wagging like a dog’s, you should pay attention,” says Shen Zhijun, a staff member at Hongshan Forest Zoo–another monitoring site that claims animals can be just as effective as specialist technology when it comes to predicting earthquakes.
By studying these unusual behavioral patterns, researchers in China hope to predict earthquakes before they actually occur.
Although Nanjing wants to recruit up to seven more farms to utilize in its research, some animal farms are reluctant to join the cause.
Zookeepers believe that zoo attendees could provoke abnormal animal behavior, rather than impending earthquakes. One zookeeper noted:
“Our zoo is not being transformed into a monitor station because the animals will display abnormal behavior when they are teased by visitors.”
Although outside factors could influence animal behavior, Chinese government researchers are hopeful that their monitoring stations will prove that with the help of animals, disastrous earthquakes can be predicted.
China is not new to dealing with fatal seismic incidents. Earlier this month, three people died in an earthquake that shook the western region of Xinjiang.
Could these animals be the answer that China has been searching for? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
— Rebecca Hartt, exclusive to Global Animal