Orangutan at National Zoo Began ‘Belch Vocalizing’ Just Before the Earthquake

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Iris does not enjoy earthquakes. Photo: Smithsonian National Zoo

Different primates had different responses to the earthquake yesterday. Humans, for example, instinctively flocked to Twitter, where they engaged in a mating ritual known as "current-event-joke one-upmanship." However, the great apes at the National Zoo in Washington, D.C., fled to the treetops. In fact, they did this seconds before the earthquake struck. According to a press release:

• The earthquake hit the Great Ape House and Think Tank Exhibit during afternoon feeding time.
• 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.

Perhaps the best ape reaction, though, came from an orangutan named Iris:


• 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.

Ha! Iris totally should have tweeted that!

National Zoo Animals React to the Earthquake [Smithsonian National Zoo]