As the solar eclipse approached, many wondered how animals would react. To find out, Micah Rumsey went to Riverbanks Zoo as scientists observed animal behavior.
The solar eclipse passed directly over Riverbanks Zoo and scientists were ready to observe any unusual animal behavior.
Earlier this week, I asked Adam Hartstone-Rose, the man in charge of the study, what he thought would happen.
“You know, I don’t particularly think that we’re going to see extraordinary things, but who knows?” said Hartstone-Rose.
Fortunately, science is full of surprises.
“And it turns out that a lot of our animals did really crazy things that were completely unexpected,” said Hartstone-Rose.
As the moon began blocking out the sun and the sky descended into perceived night, a few animals thought it was time to hit the hay.
“So some of the animals behaved within the realm of normality as if it were evening. So the gorillas kind of came back over the hill and went back towards the door where they are usually let in at night, so they thought it was time to go to bed. The elephants seemed to have reacted similarly,” said Hartstone-Rose.
With the Siamangs, you could hear a difference.
“And so, as the totality was building, so maybe 10 or…I think about 15 minutes before totality, they started calling. And then, instead of sort of building up then building down like it normally does, they went silent. Dead silent. Which, I’ve never heard of that before,” said Hartstone-Rose.
I couldn’t be everywhere at once to film, but I’m told the lorikeets and flamingos flocked together, the giraffes swayed back and forth, the komodo dragon ran across its enclosure and a baboon spun in circles. All of these behaviors will make for great scientific research.
“It’s a great feeling…I mean, it’s exciting, to say the least. This is something that hasn’t really been published before and we expect to get some great results out of this paper,” said Michael Crouch, a Ph.D. student at the University of South Carolina.