To: Woodland Park Zoo
From: Matthew Baldwin
Date: Mon, Nov 16, 2009 at 4:52 PM
Subject: Are the lights on in the nocturnal house at night?
Hi! A friend and I visited your fine zoo recently. Later that night, over beers, we joked about breaking in and revisiting the nocturnal house, because we loved the bushbabies so.
It was just a joke (honest), but it got us to wondering: if we had infiltrated the nocturnal house at, say, midnight, would the lights be on? Would not having a "day" period every 24 hours do to the nocturnal animals what living in a constantly-lighted house would do to you or I?
Bonus question: for nocturnal animals in the wild, what happens during an eclipse? Does that, like, totally mess with their heads?
To: Matthew Baldwin
From: Woodland Park Zoo
Date: Tue, Nov 17, 2009 at 7:24 AM
Subject: Re: Are the lights on in the nocturnal house at night?
No need to infiltrate; the lights are indeed on during our nighttime in the Night Exhibit. We simply swap time periods.
The animals would find it difficult to sleep without daytime periods. Behavioral effects of lack of sleep with animals hasn't been greatly studied in non-primates, however you'd probably expect to find situations of decreased appetites and possibly aggressiveness.
An eclipse, whether solar or lunar, probably wouldn't have much of an effect on wild animals. The relatively short periods of time these occur within might cause a minor disruption of their routines but most likely nothing long term.
We hope you bet a beer on this one!
Woodland Park Zoo