Omaha Zoo to study animals during Solar Eclipse

OMAHA, Neb. (GRAY) – At a zoo, constant education is paramount to its success. But since a solar eclipse is so rare, there is not much literature to share about the impact it has on animals.

Ibis at the Omaha Zoo

Chief Conservation Officer at the Omaha Zoo, Cheryl Morris says they are ready to study animal behavior saying, “We thought, ‘Gosh, there are a lot of questions people are asking about an eclipse. Will the behaviors of animals change?”

In all, the zoo will study 5 species.
GIRAFFES.
Morris: “There might be an increase in inactive behavior and nighttime patterns. For example, we might expect the giraffe to move from the belt to the barn where they go at night.”
BUTTERFLIES.
Morris says, “With our butterflies, we might see a reduction in their flying or foraging activity. They may just be less active.”
The Ibis will also be monitored by trained keepers during the solar eclipse. Along with bats and lemurs.
All of the animals were selected because of their distinct day and night patterns.
Morris says, “We’ll do what we call instantaneous scans and we’ll do that at 3 time points.” Staff will observe and document the animals at the beginning, middle and end of the eclipse while measuring the intensity of the light.
Morris: “What we find might be applicable to some other facility somewhere else one day experiencing a solar eclipse.”
So when the solar eclipse rolls through the zoo on Monday, will the animals think it’s just another extremely cloudy day? Or will their behavior tell us something else?