Can animals have psychic ability?
People have long believed that when
animals display agitated behavior an earthquake is coming. For example,
according to an article published in 1888 in Nature, "ponies have
been known to prance about their stalls, pheasants to scream, and frogs to cease
croaking suddenly a little before a shock, as if aware of its coming."
Birds, too, have been observed hiding their heads under their wings prior to an
earthquake; sometimes seabirds have headed inland before an earthquake hit off
the coast. Even fish have acted strangely. Some scientists in Japan conducted a
series of experiments by watching catfish in an aquarium. Usually the cat-fish
were very slow and unenthusiastic swimmers. But their activity level increased
six hours or so before earthquakes. Then they would jump and swim wildly. The
experimenters found that the catfish successfully predicted earthquakes about 80
percent of the time.
The Chinese have led the way in the
study of animal behavior related to earthquake prediction, but have been
somewhat secretive about the results. Prior to one earthquake, according to
author Dennis Bardens, the Chinese radio network announced in 1976 that the
"yak lay sprawling on the ground. The panda was holding his head screaming,
and the swan got up from the water and lay down on the ground."
But scientists in the United States
have also explored animals' knowledge of future earthquakes. For example, for
one experiment in the late 1970s, in the desert northeast of Los Angeles near
the fault line known as the Palmdale Bulge, rats and pocket mice were positioned
either in above-ground cages or in underground burrows where their behavior was
checked electronically. In 1979, a number of earthquakes that ranged up to 5,2
on the Richter scale were recorded in the area. In some cases, the
ground shook for up to twenty seconds. Had the rats and mice behaved differently
prior to the quakes? According to the researchers, they had not. One
researchers, UCLA biologist Robert Lindberg, concluded that:
we did not have good evidence
of animals behaving differently. Just prior to the March 15th swarm of quakes,
we did have one or two of the pocket mice run above ground at a time when they
are usually in their underground cages. But that could have been attributed to
the warmer weather we were experiencing. Unfortunately, we couldn't prove if
the animals could or could not predict earthquakes.
Despite this scientific attempt to
measure the animals' behavior, most information about their precognitive
earthquake detection comes from the stories observers tell. For example,
survivors of a 1960 Moroccan earthquake that killed fifteen thousand claimed to
observe animals, including many dogs, fleeing the town at the center of the
quake--before it struck. Hours before an earthquake destroyed most of the
Yugoslav town of Skopje in 1963, the animals at the local zoo woke the
zookeepers. According to author Bill Schul "elephants charged the bars of
their cages, tigers and cats paced their cage and constantly roared, and two
bloodhounds at the police station leaped at the windows in efforts to escape the
building." In 1979, animals in a safari park south of San Francisco acted
strangely the night before an earthquake. Mary O'Herron, a park official,
reported to the Daily Telegraph that "on the evening before the llamas
would not eat. That's unusual. They were running around wildly all night."
In addition, a cougar, a baby tiger, and an elephant all displayed abnormal
But most people seem to think of
dogs when they think of earthquake predictions. For some reason, they have
received high marks for signaling their owners (and others) that something is
wrong. For example, Ninda Steccoti, a survivor of a 1976 northern Italian quake,
reported that her dogs had begun to bark wildly, alerting her that something was
terribly wrong. In another case, on Wednesday, July 29, 1976, a golden retriever
names Lisa awakened officials at the British Embassy in Peking with her barking.
No matter what they did to try to calm her, Lisa would not stop barking. As
author Dennis Bardens wrote:
The dog's incessant
barking convinced them that something was going to happen and they aroused the
other members of the staff, who quickly fled the building. That quake was
potentially 1 1,000 times as destructive as the atomic bomb which wiped out
the city of Hiroshima in World War II.
Over two hundred and fifty thousand
people died when the quake hit a few hours later in the city of Tangshan, one
hundred miles east of Peking, However, according to writer Michael Bowker, no
claims of unusual animal behavior were reported in Tangshan itself. If animals
have the ability to see an upcoming earthquake, why didn't they alarm the
citizens of Tangshan.
Do animals sense a change in the
atmosphere or in sound waves that alerts them to a coming disaster. Do they
somehow "see" the future? Or in hindsight, do people say, "I
should have paid more attention to my dog and gotten out of here. He knew that
the earthquake was coming." Some scientists might agree that animals are
able to detect small changes in their environment that cause them to become
worried. But most are skeptical that animals can predict earthquakes at all. In
fact, few scientists are studying the relationship between animal behavior and
earthquakes any longer, not only because there is no funding available, but also
because they see little use in pursuing a dead-end option. New earthquake
researchers have turned to technological tools (such as lasers) to detect
earthquakes before they occur.
Another way that
animals seem to be psychic is when they sense an impending disaster and protect
their owners from a tragedy that couldn't have been foretold. Dogs, and
sometimes cats, are singled out for this amazing ability.
For example, authors Vincent and
Margaret Gaddis have told the experience of William H. Montgomery, who planned
to go fishing in the Atlantic Ocean one sunny day in 1938. After he prepared his
boat, he called his Irish setter, Redsy, who always accompanied him on his
fishing trips. That day, however, Redsy wouldn't get into the boat. No matter
what Montgomery said or did, she wouldn't budge from the dock. The sky was
bright blue; there was a slight breeze. He couldn't have asked for a better
fishing day--except that Redsy wasn't cooperating.
Rather than force his dog into the
boat or leave her behind, Montgomery realized that something was wrong. He
trusted Redsy's refusal and unloaded the boat. As he did he watched scores of
boats head for prime fishing water.
Within an hour, the wind picked up
and a storm-later called the Great Hurricane of 1938set in. Forty-foot waves
pounded the shoreline, and over six hundred people died, including many
fishermen. What would have happened to Montgomery if Redsy hadn't somehow seen
the coming of the storm?
According to author Bill Schul, a
farmer's cat from Lawrence, Kansas, knew that a tornado was coming four days
before it struck. The cat had given birth to four kittens in the family's barn.
Soon after, the family noticed that one of the kittens was missing. The next day
a second kitten was missing. Another kitten was missing on the third day.
Finally, on the fourth day, neither the last kitten nor the mother cat was
anywhere to be seen. That night a tornado struck, leveling the barn. Where were
the cat and her kittens? Safely sheltered at a neighboring farmhouse, which had
been spared from the tornado's path. Did the cat somehow "see" the
coming tornado? How did she sense it four days before it was formed?
Writer Andrew MacKenzie has
told the story of Merry, a cocker spaniel who lived with the Baines family in
London during World War H. It was a difficult time for anyone living in London,
since Germany had bombed England repeatedly since 1940. On June 30, 1944, a bomb
had dropped a block away from the Baineses' home, destroying some houses and
injuring many people. That day, Mrs. Baines and her daughter Audrey suddenly
became concerned when they couldn't find Merry. After a thorough search, they
found him curled up in the family's bomb shelter. The shelter, which was in the
backyard, hadn't been used by the family in four years because it had seemed too
damp. They preferred instead to sit under the table in the dry, warm dining room
when air raid sirens went off. Audrey picked Merry up and carried him from the
shelter. She wasn't sure if he was ill or not, but three more times that morning
she found him asleep on one of the shelter's beds. Audrey later said that by
my mother and I were at
Our wits) end to understand the fascination of the place which had been
ignored so long. Eventually we went down into the dank darkness and sat on the
bunks beside Merry. Once our eyes had become accustomed to the blackness and
our noses to the stench, there was a strange feeling of security not found in
the [dining room].
At that point her mother said
they were silly not to use the shelter, so they set about cleaning it up. As
soon as they began their work on the shelter, Merry ran off to play.
That night, the family stayed in the
backyard shelter. At 2:50 A.M., a German bomb exploded outside the Baineses'
house, destroying it. The explosion also ignited a gas line, causing a flash
fire that quickly spread through the area. In all, eleven houses were
demolished, while many others were severely damaged by the fire. If they had
been under the dining room table, they would most likely have been killed.
MacKenzie carefully researched and
documented this story to make sure that it was true. Neighbors and family
members confirmed the facts. Did Merry travel through time to see the bomb
destroying the family house? Or did Merry suddenly remember the bomb shelter and
decide that it was a more comfortable place to be than the dining room? These
are questions that Mackenzie wasn't able to answer.
Psychics: Upcoming Events
have been no reported cases of animals making time trips to the past (after all,
how would your dog let you know that he had just witnessed a Civil War battle?),
some animals appear to have seen upcoming events.
One dog who reportedly saw the
future was Missie, a Boston terries from Denver. According to author Bill Schul,
who studied the case, Missie's first precognitive experience happened in 1964, a
few weeks before the presidential election. Missie's owner, Mildred Probert, had
taken her to a local hardware store on an errand.
"How many weeks is it until the
election?" Miss Probert asked the store's owner.
Before the woman could reply, Missie
barked three times.
"Why, three weeks," the
woman said. But Miss Probert realized that perhaps Missie was answering her
"How many days until the
election, Missie?" Miss Probert asked.
Missie barked nineteen times; there
were nineteen days until the election.
"Mildred," the woman said,
"ask her who's going to win the election. Goldwater or Johnson?"
"But how would she know
that?" Mildred asked.
"You'll think of a way,"
the woman said.
So Miss Probert said to Missie,
"If Mr. Johnson is one and Senator Goldwater is two, who will win the
Missie barked once.
Miss Probert wasn't convinced that
Missie knew what she was barking about. "Now, Missie," she said next,
"if Barry Goldwater is one and Lyndon Johnson is two, who will win the
This time, Missie
of spectators had watched the dog predict the winner, and one of them telephoned
a local paper to report the story. The day after the election, Missie's picture
appeared in the Rocky Mountain News along with the word of her accurate
But was Missie's prediction a guess
or an actual precognitive experience? Some would say the latter, since Missie
seemed to be able to see into the future. She became so popular that she
appeared on a radio talk show, barking out replies to callers. She seemed
especially able to give accurate information about upcoming political events and
births of babies.
One day in 1965, a pregnant woman
visited Missie and Miss Probert.
"You know," Mildred said,
"Missie can tell you when you'll have your baby."
"I know all about that,"
the woman said. "My doctor has scheduled me to have my baby on October
"Will this lady have her baby
on October 6th?" Mildred asked Missie.
Missie barked once, which meant no.
"When will the baby be
born?" she asked next.
Missie barked nine times: September.
After a pause, she barked twice, paused again, then barked eight times. Mildred
took this to mean that the baby would be born on September 28.
"Will it be a girl?" she
Missie barked twice.
"Will it be a boy?"
Missie barked three times: yes.
"The doctor told me that it is
most likely a girl," the woman said.
Mildred ignored her and kept
asking Missie questions.
Missie barked out the
following information: The woman would have her baby at 9 P.M. It would weigh
seven pounds. The woman disputed both possibilities. The doctor had scheduled
her to deliver the baby at 9 A.M., and her two other children had weighed five
pounds, Missie had to be mistaken on all counts.
The night of September 28,
however, the woman's husband called Miss Probert.
"My wife had her baby
tonight," he said excitedly, "at exactly 9 P.M.
"How much did the baby
weigh?" Mildred asked. trying to prove that Missie had been 100 percent
"Seven pounds," he said.
Missie probably received a few extra
treats that night for her psychic accuracy. Think a dog could open up a psychic
ŠJames M. Deem.
Taken from How to Travel through Time (Avon,
1993). All rights reserved.