We're just a couple of weeks away from what is a pretty rare occurrence here in New England. Parts of northern New England will see a total eclipse, while southern New England see a fairly significant partial eclipse of the sun on April 8, 2024.

We wondered how animals might respond to such a strange celestial event, so we went to Dr. Emmy Budas, veterinarian at Buttonwood Park Zoo. She has been a veterinarian at the New Bedford zoo for nearly a year.

Will the Solar Eclipse Affect Animals?

"I know there are myths about animals going crazy during an eclipse, but really the biggest thing we'll see is the animals that are nocturnal might be a bit more active during the day than they normally would be," Budas said.

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An example might be an owl, a bird normally not seen or heard during the day, suddenly spotted in the wild on the afternoon of April 8.

Budas said some zoo animals that might be a bit "off" on the eclipse day could be the cougars, baby bears and elephants. These three types of animals are super in tune with their circadian rhythm. They use the sun to know when to start and end their day.

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"I'll bet you the bears (who normally love to sleep all night and play all day) will want to sleep a bit longer or be like a cranky kid that doesn't want to get out of bed," Budas said.

The vet said that the elephants are also very regulated about the way their days play out.

Pets at Home

People who own birds will see bigger changes in their pets than dog or cat owners.

Birds are kept in a strict morning and night cycle.

"Birds are almost like having a child with bedtimes," Budas said. "People with outdoor cats might notice that the cats want to be more active outside..."

Should Pets Stay Inside During the Eclipse to Protect Their Eyes?

"With people, we are trained in our brains to want to look at something when we're told not to look at something. It's in our nature," Budas said. "You can be outside during an eclipse, but we'll all want to look at it.

"However, I don't think a dog is going to be staring directly at the sun. Most of them have their faces directly to the ground when they are outdoors."

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