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More than 1,000 visitors watch solar eclipse at Rosamond Gifford Zoo

More than 1,000 people came out to Syracuse’s Rosamond Gifford Zoo Monday to view the solar eclipse, one of many places holding events to celebrate the solar event.

It was a chance for many to view the natural phenomenon for the first time. Three hundred pairs of eclipse glasses were given or sold out in less than 15 minutes. Brayden Clark, 8, had a pair.

"It looks like a crescent," Clark said. "It's pretty cool. I hadn't seen one yet in my life."

Four years ago, Ben and Erin Sills were married at the zoo. He proposed by the red pandas. On Monday, they sat on a bench with their eclipse glasses, and shared another special moment.

“It’s really unbelievable," Ben said. "It’s so cool. Erin just said to me, we’re witnessing history, and to witness it together is just that much better.”

Credit Tom Magnarelli / WRVO News
Viewing the eclipse at the Burnet Park Arts and Crafts Center.

Many kids got their faces painted, looked at the animals and looked up at the sky with their eclipse glasses.  Ashton Miller was with his 9-year-old twin sister Jordan.

“It kind of looks like the sun is the moon, in the crescent phase,” Ashton said.

"It's cool how you can really see the moon moving in front of the sun," Jordan said.

They're both animal enthusiasts. Jordan's favorites are the bush babies. Ashton's is the clouded leopard. 

“I’m excited to see how the animals react to the solar eclipse, because it’s not every day that the moon covers the sun,” Ashton said.

Zoo Director Ted Fox said the eclipse was a great teaching opportunity for kids.

"Everything we do pretty much here at the zoo ties back to nature and conservation," Fox said.

Most of the animals were unfazed by Monday’s eclipse, except for some of the birds. The waterfowl left all the other ponds to move to the main pond where they spend the night. Things may be even more different seven years from now at the next solar eclipse in central New York, when the moon will almost completely cover the sun.

Tom Magnarelli is a reporter covering the central New York and Syracuse area. He joined WRVO as a freelance reporter in 2012 while a student at Syracuse University and was hired full time in 2015. He has reported extensively on politics, education, arts and culture and other issues around central New York.