How do animals react during a solar eclipse?

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When a total solar eclipse transforms day into night, will tortoises start acting romantic? Will giraffes gallop? Will apes sing odd notes?
Researchers will be standing by to observe how animals’ routines at the Fort Worth Zoo in Texas are disrupted when skies dim on April 8. They previously detected other strange animal behaviors in 2017 at a South Carolina zoo that was in the path of total darkness.
“To our astonishment, most of the animals did surprising things,” said Adam Hartstone-Rose, a North Carolina State University researcher who led the observations published in the journal Animals.
While there are many individual sightings of critters behaving bizarrely during historic eclipses, only in recent years have scientists started to rigorously study the altered behaviors of wild, domestic and zoo animals.
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Seven years ago, Galapagos tortoises at the Riverbanks Zoo in Columbia, South Carolina, “that generally do absolutely nothing all day … during the peak of the eclipse, they all started breeding,” said Hartstone-Rose. The cause of the behavior is still unclear.
A mated pair of Siamangs, gibbons that usually call to each other in the morning, sang unusual tunes during the afternoon eclipse. A few male giraffes began to gallop in “apparent anxiety.” The flamingos huddled around their juveniles.
Researchers say that many animals display behaviors connected with an early dusk.
In April, Hartstone-Rose’s team plans to study similar species in Texas to see if the behaviors they witnessed before in South Carolina point to larger patterns.
Several other zoos along the path are also inviting visitors to help track animals, including zoos in Little Rock, Arkansas; Toledo, Ohio; and Indianapolis.
This year’s full solar eclipse in North America crisscrosses a different route than in 2017 and occurs in a different season, giving researchers and citizen scientists opportunities to observe new habits.
“It’s really high stakes. We have a really short period to observe them and we can’t repeat the experiment,

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