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How did zoo animals react to Monday's total solar eclipse?

In a preliminary study, the Columbus Zoo said it noticed different behavior among ostriches, reindeer and elephants.
How did zoo animals react to Monday's total solar eclipse?
Posted at 8:39 AM, Apr 10, 2024

Several major zoos were in the path of Monday's total solar eclipse, providing an opportunity for the public and experts to examine how animals behave during these rare astronomical events. 

The Columbus Zoo in Ohio was among the zoos that experienced a total solar eclipse. The zoo partnered with researchers from the Ohio State University for an observational study on how the eclipse impacted animal behavior. The zoo said that data was collected before and during the eclipse and will continue to be gathered for a couple of weeks after "to understand the true impact the eclipse may have had on the animals."

The zoo said preliminary results mostly showed normal behavior, except among ostriches, reindeer and elephants. The zoo said researchers will continue reviewing behaviors to look for subtle differences in animal behaviors. 

"Ostriches are generally very active during daylight hours, and at night, they rest and find a place to bed down. During the eclipse, the ostriches at the Columbus Zoo did move into their night quarters as if to nest down, and one ostrich did lay an egg during the event," a zoo spokesperson said. 

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The zoo noted odd behavior among elephants. 

"The elephants reacted by thumping their trunks on the ground like they do when excited and huddling up as a group with excited vocalizations of low trumpets and chirps," the spokesperson said. 

The reindeer lay down as the skies darkened but got back up when the sun came back out. 

In Cleveland, a two-hour drive north of Columbus, the city's Metroparks Zoo also noticed reindeer and elephants, along with lions and dingoes, exhibiting "behaviors during a traditional day/night cycle."

The zoo also said that the flamingos went from a state of rest and moved toward their indoor habitat while vocalizing. 

Meanwhile, other species, like the goats, "just preferred to keep eating."

@scrippsnews Did you notice any animals acting differently during Monday’s #SolarEclipse? Preliminary results from the Columbus Zoo and Ohio State University found the animals had little to no behavioral changes during the eclipse. The exceptions were the ostriches, reindeer, and elephants. Researchers found the #reindeer stayed asleep before and through totality, but when the sun came through again, they woke back up. At the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo, #flamingos started vocalizing while they went from resting to moving toward their indoor habitat. #totalsolareclipse ♬ original sound - Scripps News


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