Eclipse sends Japan lemurs into frenzy

AFP News21 May 2012
A group of about 20 lemurs at the Japan Monkey Centre jumped up and down wildly during the annular eclipse
Ring-tailed lemurs can be seen in the foreground as children watch a solar eclipse at the Japan Monkey Center in Japan's Aichi prefecture on May 21. The once-in-a-lifetime event sent the primates into evening behaviour, which involves a round of brisk exercise to keep their body temperature up, an official said

The solar eclipse that inspired awe on Monday also sent ring-tailed lemurs at a Japanese zoo into a frenzy, as they were fooled into thinking it was nighttime, an official said.

A group of about 20 lemurs at the Japan Monkey Centre in central Aichi prefecture jumped up and down wildly during the annular eclipse, which was witnessed by millions of people across Asia and the United States.

The once-in-a-lifetime event sent the primates into evening behaviour, which involves a round of brisk exercise to keep their body temperature up, said the zoo's director Akira Kato.

And shortly before the eclipse, which created a "ring of fire" effect, the lemurs climbed up trees and poles in what Kato said was "very unusual" activity for that time of day.

"This is a behaviour that they usually take in the evening, so that they raise their body temperature," he said.

After the phenomenon passed, the excited lemurs calmed down and went back to their usual mundane daily activities including munching on grass and lying around.

An annular eclipse occurs when the moon passes in front of the sun, but is too far from the Earth to block it out completely, leaving a "ring of fire" visible.