Solar eclipse confusion could make animals do some strange things

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Those keeping a watchful eye on the sky during the solar eclipse may also want to divert some attention toward animals.

NASA says  some animals are expected to begin their nighttime routine hours early after getting confused by darkness during the day on Aug. 21. It says changes may be noticed in pets, local wildlife, and most notably in birds.

READ MORE: What Canadians can expect during the solar eclipse on August 21

The organization has outlined all the zoos along the eclipse’s path on its website, encouraging viewers to pay a visit.

“You can be like a scientist and observe nature’s reactions at a local zoo.”

In Canada, the Vancouver Zoo will likely have the best view of the eclipse, as it’s closest to the solar eclipse’s path. In an email to Global News, it said zoo workers are “very excited” for the eclipse.

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“Staff will be closely monitoring animal behaviour as we do expect animals to react as the sky darkens and air temperatures drop mid morning,” the zoo’s animal care manager, Menita Prasad, wrote.

WATCH: More coverage of the solar eclipse 

Prasad added they’re not yet sure how different species will act but the zoo will be paying special attention to animals that react more easily to stimulus, such as giraffes and zebras.

Animals that may have the most obvious change in behaviour include ones that fly (birds, insects and bats), Forbes reports. Bats begin hunting, insects start biting, and birds stop chirping. Even cattle can get confused by the brief darkness, and stop eating or sit down as they prepare to hit the hay.

READ MORE: How to watch the eclipse without permanently damaging your eyes

National Geographic reports that there are several historical accounts of animals acting strangely during total eclipses but research is difficult to conduct because the events are rare.

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The magazine reports that accounts of unusual animal behaviour date back to the year 1239, when Italian monk Ristoro d’Arezzo wrote “all the animals and birds were terrified.”

In order to better document animal response to the natural phenomenon, the California Academy of Sciences is inviting eclipse viewers to download the iNaturalist app where they can note their observations. The organization described the event as a “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to record eclipse-related animal behavior.”

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