Fort Worth solar lovers witness the 2017 eclipse
Eclipse Day was just another day at the office for the bonobos and other residents of the Fort Worth Zoo.
The Great American Eclipse of 2017, in which the moon’s shadow blocked 75 percent of the sun here, came and went without even a wave from the bonobos.
Nor did there appear to be any irregular animal behavior in the other exhibits. Fact is, it just didn’t get much darker than usual at 1:08 p.m., the time of maximum partial solar eclipse in North Texas.
“It would seem the two takeaways from today are that the bonobos were driven by their stomachs — they were ready for lunch and were nonplussed regarding anything happening in the sky. The second thing is that there were an awful lot of zoogoers looking up today, so whoever manufactured solar eclipse glasses made a killing,” said Alexis Wilson, the zoo’s director of communications.
A run on solar eclipse glasses leading up to the big event Monday had left them in short supply.
Zoogoer Carl Henshaw of Roanoke was sharing his plastic welder’s glasses with others who wanted a glimpse of the eclipse. He was at the zoo with his wife, Anne, and two children and said he picked up his eclipse specs at Harbor Freight Tools.
The zoo animals could not have cared less.
“Some experts we have heard had said that you might notice some animals getting ready for their nighttime routines, but we did not see anything different here — just another day out at the zoo,” said zoo spokeswoman Avery Elander. “Our zookeepers here were not really expecting anything out of the ordinary.”
The Fort Worth Museum of Science and History saw about 2,500 people go through the doors for the event there, which included a live feed from Noble Planetarium manager Sarah Twidal in Albany, Oregon, along the path of totality.
“That’s a lot of people for the museum. It was really crowded,” museum spokeswoman Rebecca Rodriguez said. “It turned out really well.”
Another thousand or so went to the East Regional Library for an event there in collaboration with the museum, she said.
Noting the high turnout, Rodriguez said it was remarkable that as much as we know about science now, people are still mesmerized by something so basic and relatively common but which seems like magic.
Downtown workers gathered in large groups on street corners, lined up on sidewalks and even took to rooftops with glasses and shoeboxes to stare at the sun.
“I’ve never seen anything like this in my life. I’m 42 years old and I’ve never seen anything like this in my life,” one participant said in disbelief.
Several hundred people were also reported at the Haltom City Public Library sack lunch event, and there were other events planned at libraries in Bedford, Crowley, Burleson and Granbury.
Staff writer Denise Harris contributed to this report.