Experiencing eclipse at Zoo New York: How will animals react?

WATERTOWN, N.Y. — There have been lots of discussions about what people will be doing during the eclipse, but what about animals?

At Zoo New York, located at Thompson Park in Watertown, people will have the chance to view the eclipse there and see how the animals will react.

Students from Jefferson County Community College, a part of the zoo technology program, will be showcasing presentations that day as well.

Mark Irwin, the interim director of Zoo New York and a professor in the zoo technology program at Jefferson, said even though he is an expert on animal behavior, he cannot predict with certainty what their animals will do.

“I expect that some animals probably won’t respond to it,” Irwin said. “I think some may respond as if it’s their nighttime routine, so if they normally would go into holding, or normally slow down, we might see that.”

One of the zoo’s main attractions is their snowy owl Suzy. Irwin said snowy owls often become most active at dusk and dawn, making Suzy one intriguing bird when it comes to the eclipse.

“So actually, snowy owls are one of the few that are diurnal, so they are active during the day,” Irwin said. “When we watch Suzy, we are going to expect that she may start to act a little bit as if it is nighttime.”

Irwin also predicts some animals might even get a little anxious due to this rare occurrence.

Along with providing a viewing experience for the eclipse, Zoo New York will be selling special eclipse shirts.