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Philadelphia Zoo visitors observe animals during eclipse as part of citizen science project

Philadelphia Zoo visitors help collect data about animals' behavior during eclipse
Philadelphia Zoo visitors help collect data about animals' behavior during eclipse 02:09

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Even though clouds blocked the eclipse, there was still quite a bit for visitors to see at the Philadelphia Zoo on Monday.

Instead of just looking at the sky, families also kept an eye on the animals during the rare celestial event.

"It's interesting to see, how does it impact everyone?" Dawn Polansky said. "Everyone seems extra excited and, I don't know, a little bit more friendly because we're all sharing this experience."

It's an experience that Francesca Carendi wanted to share with her family after she visited the zoo during the last eclipse in 2017.

"I had remembered that you should be here to watch the animals and see how they react during it," Carendi said. "This time I came prepared with actual solar glasses."

They're just a few of the many people across the nation participating in a large citizen science project that the Philadelphia Zoo is a part of, called the Solar Eclipse Safari.

The project is facilitated by a company called SciStarter.

"We are asking our guests who just happen to be at the zoo today to help us observe our animals," Philadelphia Zoo's Mission Integration Director Dani Hogan said.

Visitors signed up with zoo staff, picked which animal to observe and used their phones to track their behavior before, during and after the eclipse.

Since the event doesn't happen often, there isn't much information on animal behavior during an eclipse

Once all the data is collected, the company will analyze it. 

"We've kind of been doing it observational as we're just passing by the animals and asking zookeepers too, have you noticed anything different?" Polansky said.

Although most people were very excited for the rare moment, most of the animals seemed pretty unfazed by the event.

"We are not in the path of complete totality so we're pretty sure that our animals will be totally fine," Hogan said. "It will maybe look like a passing cloud to them, at most."

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