Lemurs go berserk during eclipse

2012-05-21 11:42
The moon slides across the sun, showing a blazing halo of light, during an annular eclipse at a waterfront park in Yokohama, near Tokyo. (Shuji Kajiyama, AP)

The moon slides across the sun, showing a blazing halo of light, during an annular eclipse at a waterfront park in Yokohama, near Tokyo. (Shuji Kajiyama, AP)

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Tokyo - 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 night time, 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 US.

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.
Read more on:    animals  |  astronomy

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