Rochester eclipse: Seneca Park Zoo prepares to watch and listen to animals during totality

Eclipse and Zoo Animals

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. – The Rochester region will be in the direct path of a total solar eclipse on April 8. Over the last several weeks, News10NBC has been exploring all the ways humans will be able to experience it.   

The Seneca Park Zoo is one of only a few zoos in the path of totality and it’s not planning to waste the opportunity for research. 

Zookeepers will be paying very close attention and recording animal behaviors that they witness but they’ve also installed audio recording devices in a number of exhibits to hear what sounds the animals make and how they communicate during totality.    

Audiomoth devices were placed a few weeks ago to gather a baseline.

“We’ve used these out in the field with RIT in the past,” explains Tom Snyder, the Director of Programming and Conservation action at Seneca Park Zoo.

The recording devices will be removed after the eclipse and reviewed.  

“Which animals know that things are different and do they vocalize that in a way that either we can hear or we can’t hear and this hardware allows us to listen to both,” Synder explains. 

The audiomoth can read and record frequencies the human ear cannot hear. 

Synder says the data can help zookeepers better care for the animals and look for ways to better protect them.

“The more of that data we can get in people’s hands and in researcher’s hands, the more answers we can come up with,” he says. 

Seneca Park Zoo’s General Curator David Hamilton says he’s excited to learn from the data that’s gathered.

“The zebra, giraffe, lions, baboons, otters, snowy owl, several exhibits throughout the zoo will have them and we can see if there’s anything else going on,” he tells News10NBC.

As far as what Hamilton expects to see from the animals at the zoo, “Some of them are going to be kind of confused about what’s going on, maybe they make some vocalizations about that, I expect maybe our lions here are going to roar and make some calls like that, some of them are going to say, ‘Oh, it’s nighttime’ and start preparing for bed,” he predicts. 

As for the species he thinks might have the biggest reaction, “The baboons are probably going to be the ones that are the most active and most curious about what’s happening and how it got dark so quickly,” Hamilton says.

If you don’t already have plans and you’re interested in how the animals will react during totality, the zoo will be open on April 8.