Christchurch quakes scare animals

Simon Baker, NZ Herald

LIKE most of Christchurch's human residents, exotic animals in the city are also proving resilient in the face of ongoing aftershocks in the region.

Orana Wildlife Park chief executive Lynn Anderson said last Friday's two large aftershocks showed animals have adjusted to the quakes which have rattled the city since September 4.

"On Friday, one lionesss simply twitched her ear when the big one hit - she didn't even move.

"Even the previously flighty antelope species can be grazing again within minutes of a large shake."

Ms Anderson said the cheetah have gone from "freaking out and running around" after the September and February 22 quakes, to hardly batting an eyelid.

White rhino, the giraffes and the emu had also become more used to the ground moving violently beneath them.

"The primates have tended to be the animals most visibly impacted by the earthquakes.

"However, staff have noticed that the lemurs' alarm calling has significantly reduced following each earthquake," Ms Anderson said.

"On the other hand, the spider monkeys still seem most affected and alarm call after each event."

Jackie Chan, an eight-year-old spider monkey who was transferred from Wellington Zoo only days before Friday's jolts, was the most distressed.

"Poor Jackie Chan was terrified by the first quake, he was alarm calling loudly and did not want to be on the ground preferring to climb over logs.

"One of our keepers made a radio call from his exhibit and we could all hear the angst in his cries.

"However, by the second shake he had settled down considerably as one of the keepers consoled him and provided plenty of treats to calm his nerves."

The zoo suffered no damage after Friday's magnitude 5.8 and 6 aftershocks, however the earthquakes have seen a "dramatic drop" in both international and domestic visitors.

"Orana is open and offers a great family outing over summer so we encourage people to come and visit our hardy animals," Ms Anderson said.

Topics:  animals christchurch

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