COLUMBIA – Riverbanks Zoo and Garden hopes to shed light on whether animals behave differently during a total solar eclipse when Solar Eclipse 2017 makes a path across the United States on Monday, August 21.
Riverbanks' Adjunct Scientist Adam Hartstone-Rose is spearheading a scientific study of select species at the Zoo to discern what effects, if any, the eclipse will have on animal behavior. Observation teams will be comprised of Riverbanks' animal care staff, Zoo volunteers and research students from the University of South Carolina.
"There are more peer-reviewed articles on the existence of the Sasquatch than how an eclipse impacts animals," said Dr. Adam Hartstone-Rose, Associate Professor of Cell Biology and Anatomy at the University of South Carolina. "Our research teams will spend time observing several key species and collecting behavioral data in the days leading up to the eclipse, during the eclipse and following totality."
Guests visiting the Zoo on eclipse day also will have an opportunity to help research efforts through citizen science. Zoo staff will distribute materials to interested visitors and will collect their findings following the event.
"We are especially interested in how animals might react socially," said Dr. Hartstone-Rose.
In addition, Zoo guests can watch NASA's live broadcast of the eclipse as it makes its way to Columbia in Riverbanks' Discovery Center Theater. Scheduled animal enrichment and up-close animal encounters also are planned throughout the day.
Guests are encouraged to arrive at the park early as Zoo and Garden parking is expected to reach capacity by 11 a.m. A limited quantity of free eclipse viewing glasses also will be available for visitors.