Zoo animals baffled by solar eclipse

When thousands of people thronged outdoors for the longest total solar eclipse of the 21st century, animals at the zoo in east China's Hangzhou City also reacted, quickly and confusedly.

Two Indian elephants, each weighing five tons, seemed to know nothing that solar eclipse. When the sun became invisible at about 9:35 a.m., the elephants dropped grass on their trunks and returned to their dorms without hesitation.

Three giraffe gathered on a corner when darkness fell. They stood still and looked around. Two minutes later, two giraffes returned to their homes while another stayed outside, still wondering about the phenomenon.

Monkeys became the noisiest group at the zoo. The monkeys who usually frolic retreated to their caves. Two lemurs could not stop crying in the caves as they do at night.

The shadow of the moon disoriented birds whose body clock and direction depend on the sun. Red-crowned cranes and flamingoes that had been wandering or drinking water suddenly fell asleep during the brief blackout of eclipse. But when the sun rays came out again several minutes later, the birds emerged from their cages and started life on another 'day.'

The solar eclipse was a first for most of the animals at the zoo. Birds and elephants are more sensitive to sun rays and showed more of a reaction than tigers, lions, leopard and pandas, said Jiang Zhi, a zookeeper.

But as the eclipse did not last long, all the animals at the zoo quickly resumed their normal lives, he said.