HOH’s One-Minute Recess: Animals on Quake Alert

Posted August 24, 2011 at 11:36am

At about 1:51 p.m. Tuesday, an earthquake measuring 5.8 in magnitude struck just south of Washington, startling the cuttlefish during their feeding time at the Smithsonian National Zoological Park.

According to the zoo’s press release, one volunteer at the Invertebrate Exhibit noticed the cuttlefish were a bit distracted and the normally calm tank water started making waves.

Elsewhere in the zoo, several primates abandoned their food, gathered their children and climbed atop a “tree-like structure” in the exhibit seconds before the quake hit.

One orangutan began belch vocalizing — a noise which generally means nothing good — just before the quake and continued after the tremor faded.

The clairvoyant “red-ruffed lemurs sounded an alarm call about 15 minutes before the quake and then again just after it occurred,” the statement continues.

The howler monkeys, however, were slow on the draw, sounding their alarm after the quake. (Unhelpful.)

The giant elephant shrew (which we assume is a species and not a bitter lady elephant) hid and refused to come out for food.

All the snakes “began writhing during the quake.” Apparently, they normally just lay around during the day digesting or something.

The beavers and ducks were being fed when the quake hit. The ducks jumped (Really? They jump?) into their pool.

“The beavers stopped eating,” the statement says. “[They] stood on their hind legs and looked around, then got into the water, too.”

After an hour, some of the beavers left the water to finish eating.

The lion pride stood up, stayed motionless and faced the Great Cats building, then settled down like whatever-no-big-deal. The Sumatran tiger, on the other hand, was a bit startled.

The 64 flamingos huddled together.

In other parts of city, parts of statues in Union Station and the Capitol fell off, along with plaster and other building materials.

Pieces of the National Cathedral broke off, the Washington Monument has closed indefinitely because of some cracks and at least one group begged President Barack Obama and Members of Congress to “heed the earthquake warning” and come back from recess.

Not the bad-arse giant pandas. They were completely nonplussed by the whole event.