China monitoring animals to predict earthquakes

July 6, 2015

BEIJING, China — Chinese government researchers are using chickens, fish and toads to try to predict earthquakes, media reported.

The seismological bureau in the eastern city of Nanjing has transformed seven animal farms into seismic stations, the China Daily newspaper reported last week.

Breeders on the farms are asked to update the bureau about the behavior of the animals twice a day, the report said. Possible abnormal behavior that could indicate imminent earthquakes includes chickens flying atop trees, fish leaping out of water or toads moving in a group, it added.

Nanjing plans to recruit seven more farms into the scheme this year, it said. Facilities need to house more than three species to be eligible.

But some animal keepers seemed reluctant to become involved.

“Our zoo is not being transformed into a monitor station because the animals will display abnormal behavior when they are teased by visitors,” the report quoted a local zookeeper as saying.

Using animals to predict earthquakes is not new in China. State-run media said last year that the central city of Nanchang was using dogs to predict tremors.

China is regularly hit by seismic incidents, with hundreds of thousands killed in major disasters in the past. Three people died in the latest fatal earthquake last week, in the far western region of Xinjiang.

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