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Do Animals Possess Instinctive Ability to Sense Impending Storms?

By By Kevin Byrne, Staff Writer
June 24, 2014, 8:57:44 AM EDT

Animals may possess an innate ability to react to weather quicker than humans, but don’t count on their behaviors determining how much snow is expected for winter or how severe a hurricane season could become.

That is because while there are indications that animals do have advanced capabilities to recognize changes in weather, how far in advance they can predict such changes is still to be determined.

“I certainly think that [animals] have abilities to sense that,” said John Linehan, president and CEO of Zoo New England, which operates Franklin Park Zoo in Boston and Stone Zoo in Stoneham, Massachusetts. “I’ve certainly seen behavioral changes in the many years I’ve been observing animals, but how far in advance, I don’t actually know.”

Linehan’s experience working with animals covers more than 30 years and he has seen many peculiar occurrences in animal behavior as it relates to weather.

Animals have more developed senses than humans, such as sense of smell and hearing, and that leads to their ability to detect impending weather changes sooner, Linehan said.

“Certainly, many have a better sense of smell than we do; they can smell rain coming when it is miles away,” he said.

When areas of low pressure move in, Linehan said he notices that animals, particularly prey species such as wild sheep, antelopes and wild goats, tend to become more excitable as opposed to predator species such as lions and tigers.


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