By Wanda Wierzbicki

The solar eclipse on Monday, April 8 is going to be a PA day, and the Toronto Zoo is inviting students to become Junior Citizen Scientists and help the zoo’s team document the effect of the midday darkness on the various animals.

Complimentary solar eclipse glasses will be provided (while supplies last) to all zoo visitors that day. Students will document the activity levels of their favourite animal and record any behavioural changes they see during this unique event.

The darkest part of this eclipse will be from 2:55 p.m. to 3:05 pm. The zoo is asking students to get there early to find a spot with their preferred animal. Be a junior scientist for a day. For more info, go to

While visiting the zoo, be sure to visit the newly renovated Greenhouse, which is home to one of the largest plant collections in Canada, with plants from Africa, Indomalaya, Australia and the Americas. Check out the “We’re in Bloom” table where plants currently blooming are highlighted. You will find many interesting, beautiful and unique plants. The colourful orchids are always a fan favourite. This is a great place for budding botanists.

Behind the Greenhouse, the Wildlife Health Centre is also worth a visit. The viewing gallery showcases the x-ray and ultrasound area, the operating room and various labs. There are several interesting and informative videos playing all day. You might see an animal getting an annual exam or perhaps a procedure. This is a definite “must see” for future vets, doctors or scientists.

The warmer weather and longer sunnier days are encouraging people and animals to venture outside. For those who haven’t been to the Toronto Zoo recently, the first thing you will notice is the construction at the entrance, but don’t let that scare you away. Beyond the front gate, the animals are waiting.

Total eclipse is really a big deal

By Kathryn Stocks

The total eclipse of the sun is happening on Monday, April 8 and it’s worth getting out to watch this rare event. A total solar eclipse occurs when the moon passes between the sun and the Earth, and the moon completely covers the face of the sun. Parts of Canada will experience brief moments of darkness in the afternoon that day.

Here in Toronto we will have a partial solar eclipse with an obscuration of 99.93 per cent, which means a sliver of sun will show at the edge during the peak of coverage. The whole thing will start here at 2:04 p.m., end at 4:30 p.m., and the peak will be at 3:19 p.m.

Before viewing, it’s important to acquire eclipse safety glasses for all members of your family. The Port Union Library has some that were donated by the Dunlap Institute that they’re giving out for free while supplies last. Looking directly at the sun without them  could damage your eyes.

If you watch the eclipse here at home, you will have to keep your eclipse glasses on for the whole event. Even though there’s just a sliver of sun showing, it can still hurt your eyes. If you go to one of the areas of total eclipse, however, you can remove your glasses to view the minutes of totality.

To get the full experience of this once-in-a-lifetime event, consider travelling to nearby locations that will get 100% obscuration, such as Niagara Region, Hamilton or Port Colborne to the southwest, and Kingston or Belleville to the east. This website will tell you the length of obscuration in any spot along the eclipse’s path when you click on the map. Obscuration varies between 1 minute, 50 seconds in Hamilton to 3 minutes, 41 seconds in Port Colborne.

We encourage everyone to watch this amazing celestial event on April 8. Let’s keep our fingers crossed that the weather’s not cloudy.