Animals invited to help forecast earthquakes
Animals in a northeast China zoo are now there not only for people to visit but also for monitoring possible earthquakes.
The Anshan Zoo, named after the city where it is located, in Liaoning Province, was brought into the city's seismological macro-observation network this week.
"About one week before an earthquake happens, animals' behaviors would become obviously abnormal," said Xu Jing, deputy chief engineer of the city's seismological bureau. And the more abnormal the animals act, the stronger the earthquake would probably be.
The zoo keepers therefore were given a new mission besides taking care of the animals: report to the seismological bureau whenever they find the animals acting strangely.
Together with the micro-monitoring result done with instruments, the local seismological administration believed that its earthquake forecasting would become more accurate and in time.
It is believed that more than 100 kinds of animals can "predict " earthquakes, including horses, donkeys, pigs, cattle, dogs, cats, chickens, ducks, geese, rats, snakes, and fish. Some are restless, some are dazed and some change their habits.
China, located between the circum-Pacific seismic belt and the belt ranging from the Mediterranean to the Himalayas, experiences the most earthquakes in the world.
Liaoning Province has reported three earthquakes measuring above 5.0 on the Richter scale since 1970. It has succeeded in forecasting one earthquake measuring 7.3 on the Richter scale which hit Yingkou and Haicheng, two densely populated places in southern part of the province, on Feb. 4, 1975. More than 2,000 people died in that tremor.
The most tragic quake to occur in China was the one hitting Tangshan of Hebei Province, the province surrounding Beijing, on July 28, 1976. Measuring 7.8 on the Richter scale, it killed some 242,000 people.