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Do Animals Behave Differently when Experiencing a Solar Eclipse?

The total solar eclipse taking place on August 21, 2017 is creating a lot of excitement here in Nashville. At the Zoo, our animals are (we believe) completely unaware of the impending astronomical event. We are zoology professionals and enthusiasts, and we are very curious to see how our animal collection will react to a false dusk, night, and dawn taking place over the course of a few hours in the middle of the day. So on August 21, we will be watching our animals, and we invite you to come to the Zoo and do the same at our Great American Solar Eclipse Animal Observation Experience on August 21.

While we are not certain what to expect from animals, we have done some research on past observations during either partial or total eclipses. Here are some behaviors we’ll be looking for:

  • Bird calls ceasing except for owls and possibly our rhinoceros hornbills
  • Animals nesting, roosting or moving to areas where they typically go inside at night
  • Cessation of eating, foraging or grazing
  • Primates possibly looking at the eclipse

Animal behaviors can also be observed in your own backyard. Here are a few possibilities:

  • Bird calls ceasing except for owls
  • Crickets, cicadas and frogs start making noise
  • Bats begin flying around
  • Orb weaving spiders begin dismantling their webs
  • Fireflies may begin flying and signaling

If you have a smartphone, please record your observations and share them with us. We encourage you to download an app called iNaturalist (https://www.inaturalist.org/). Once installed, please take the following steps:

1. Tap the More tab at the bottom and select Projects
2. Select the Nearby tab at the top or search "Nashville Zoo"
3. Select "Nashville Zoo Eclipse Event"
4. Select "Join"

Familiarize yourself with the app. When making observations at the Zoo, be sure to add the Nashville Zoo Event under the projects bar before sharing. If you’d rather not use the app, please share your observations on your social media and tag us, add us as a location or add #nashvillezoo or #nzooeclipse.

Posted by Nashville Zoo at 11:38 AM

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