Eclipse Trip: Nashville Zoo will monitor animal behavior during solar eclipse

Texas Today reporter Jamie Kennedy and Channel 6 meteorologist Zac Scott visited the Nashville Zoo to discuss possible strange animal behavior during the solar eclipse.

On day five of their roundabout trip to view the total solar eclipse, Texas Today Reporter Jamie Kennedy and Meteorologist Zac Scott stopped in Nashville -- just an hour short of their final destination: Hopkinsville, Kentucky.

Nashville is the largest city in the path of the total solar eclipse. Thousands of tourists are expected to visit the Music City on Monday, and more than 8,000 of them are estimated to have plans to watch the eclipse from the Nashville Zoo, according to zoo staff.

Jim Bartoo, the zoo's marketing and public relations director, encouraged guests to monitor the animals' behavior during the solar eclipse and report any unexpected behaviors they see.

"When you are here, observe the animals and tell us, show us, share it with video, pictures, texts, emails -- however it is that you want to share it with us," Bartoo said. "We want to know what kind of observations you're seeing about our animals as we move into totality and was we move out of totality."

Though research is scarce regarding animal eclipse behavior and even the zookeepers aren't exactly sure how the animals might react. One main theory is that animals like the zoo's four female rhinos, who are used to a routine, might begin inching toward the entrance to their enclosure during the eclipse -- assuming nighttime is nearing and it is time for a meal.

"These rhinos come on exhibit every morning at 9 a.m. They go off every evening at 6 p.m. So, you do that over and over again, and they start to get used to the fact that at 6:00, they're going to go inside. So, they start to move in that direction. The question is: are they moving in that direction because of the light level? Are they moving in a direction because their stomach says to go inside I'm going to get something to eat, or is it something bigger? Is there a bigger circadian rhythm they're following? The witnessing of this during the eclipse will at least let us know if light level has anything to do with it," Bartoo explained.

Even for those not viewing the solar eclipse from a zoo, Bartoo still recommended paying attention to nature. Frogs, lightning bugs and crickets might all behave differently during the eclipse, he added.

To follow Jamie and Zac's trip to view the solar eclipse, click here.

© 2017 KCEN-TV


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