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Animals Adjust to Quakes at Orana Wildlife Park

Animals Adjust to Quakes at Orana Wildlife Park

Just like resilient Cantabrians some of Christchurch’s exotic residents living at Orana Wildlife Park have learned to adjust to the earthquakes that continue to hit the city.

Orana’s Chief Executive, Lynn Anderson, says: “Friday’s two large earthquakes clearly demonstrated to us that our animals are learning to live with and accept these shakes as part of life. 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.”

Some further examples of how the animals have adjusted are:

· The cheetah have progressed from ‘freaking out and running around’ in September and February to sitting and bracing themselves in June and on Friday they hardly batted an eyelid.

· The white rhino sat down together in the middle of their exhibit in February. In June, they completed two ‘synchronised laps’ of their exhibit running together in a perfectly formed line. On Friday - they simply lifted their heads to see what was going on.

· The emu darted for their fence in the first few events but on Friday calmly approached the keeper seeking food, seeming oblivious to the shakes.

· The giraffe raced out of their house in February and June, not wanting to return for many hours before their stomachs got the better of them. On Friday, female giraffe Nathalie simply braced herself in the house and the other members of the herd did not seem at all bothered.

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

The most distressed creature on Friday was Jackie Chan, an eight year old spider monkey who was transferred from Wellington Zoo to Orana just last Tuesday. “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.”

Jackie Chan is currently in isolation (off public display) and will be slowly introduced to the Park’s five female monkeys in the New Year. His arrival is part of the zoo-based breeding programme for the species and staff hope he will sire many youngsters. Orana’s previous breeding male monkey died in 2004 and the last monkey born at Orana was in 2005.

“Park staff had just completed a thorough check of all animal exhibits when the second quake struck on Friday then had to undertake another full check but thankfully the Park remains structurally sound and all animals are well. However, the impact of the earthquakes has been felt in terms of a dramatic drop in visitation through the loss of domestic and international visitors. Orana is open and offers a great family outing over summer so we encourage people to come and visit our hardy animals” concludes Lynn.

- ENDS -

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