Estimated read time: 2-3 minutes
This archived news story is available only for your personal, non-commercial use. Information in the story may be outdated or superseded by additional information. Reading or replaying the story in its archived form does not constitute a republication of the story.
Ed Yeates ReportingDid animals flee to higher ground before those Tsunamis hit two weeks ago? Observers say they did, perhaps sensing something we can't -- or if we can, we tend to ignore.
We've heard these stories before. Just prior to a big event, like an earthquake or Tsunami, animals sense something, become agitated, even run away. Apparently it happened 13 days ago in countries rimming the Indian Ocean.
Before the Tsunami hit, elephants - some carrying tourists - took to higher ground. At Hogle Zoo veterinarian Dr. Nancy Carpenter says their reaction makes sense, especially if they can hear frequencies from things happening at some distance.
Dr. Nancy Carpenter, Hogle Zoo Veterinarian: “Giraffes communicate with low frequency noises, and elephants do as well. So those species are probably going to be more in tune to those lower frequencies.”
Other creatures fled too. In fact, few dead animals have been found in the rubble left behind. And what about the crocodiles? Did they sense something else?
Dr. Nancy Carpenter: "The crocodiles that came up after the tsunami was over very much could have figured out that their water was moving on them when it shouldn't have been moving."
Similar stories were reported closer to home 22 years ago between MacKay and Challis, Idaho. In the early morning hours before a big earthquake tilted Borah Peak, something was spooking the horses and cattle.
Morgan Haroldsen, Idaho Rancher, 1983: “They were really whooping it up, and I just thought we had a mountain lion in it. But I was so tired, I said they’re just going to have to fare for themselves.”
Scientific studies proving animals can sense catastrophic events simply haven't been done. And most researchers shy away from endorsing theories in the absence of experimental data. But Dr. Carpenter believes it happens. In fact, she says human members of primitive tribes may have the same abilities.
Dr. Nancy Carpenter: “Probably some of these people and animals that are not so out of tune with nature have the ability to sense what’s going on.”
During the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake special fireworks were set off at lower frequencies so animals at Hogle Zoo would be prepared for the real event several days later. It worked.