Zoo Knoxville will experience 99.78 percent totality during the August 21 solar eclipse and zoo keepers are excited to see how the animals will behave during the event.
"It's going to be just as interesting for us as to what's happening with the animals as is what's happening in the sky I think," curator of mammals Terry Cannon said. "Many of our guys are used to going into building, and they're used to having lights turned on and off. So it's very possible they could just see this as, 'Hmm, lights went off, lights come back on, I'll go about my business and go about eating my hay.'"
Various species of animals may respond differently, and many of the zoo employees are curious to see how nocturnal animals might respond.
"They always surprise us in different ways and react in different ways to different occasions," lead trainer for the Zoo Knoxville bird show Adam Patterson said. "Sometimes you can say it's a little unpredictable, so it'll be exciting as well just to see."
The animals' responses will be recorded and added to the existing small amount of research.
"I think we're looking forward to any time anything like this happens, to learn a little bit more about our animals," Cannon said.
Zoo Knoxville is already working on a plan for special programs on August 21.
"Maybe it won't affect them at all, and there's just a little bit of hype for nothing. Or maybe we'll see those nocturnal animals become a little bit more active during the eclipse," Patterson said.
Chattanooga Zoo is also planning for the event and may take some animals indoors if they appear to be stressed.