1981 – 2004
Our oldest and dearest resident, Bentley, an African straw-colored flying fox (Eidolon helvum) passed away in the fall of 2004.
Bentley was born in a zoo in 1981 and hand-reared after his mother rejected him. He spent 19 years on display in various zoos, where he was picked on by more aggressive males and received various injuries that included the loss of his lower lip. Bentley was consequently confined to a cage by himself for over 12 years, where he became malnourished and developed psychological problems from being alone. Bentley found refuge at Bat World Sanctuary in June of 2000, shortly after we learned of his condition and that he was scheduled to be euthanized.
Although Bentley was only with us for four short years, we are thankful we were able to give him the rich life he so deserved, and he seemed truly happy in his final years. He had older roost-mates for company, slept in soft hammocks suspended from the ceiling during the day and enjoyed enrichment like fruit kabobs throughout the night. Watermelon was among his favorite foods. He loved to chow down on it; whether on a kabob or being held.
When Bentley’s health began to rapidly decline we suspected his time was near. When his quality of life reached the point where euthanasia was the preferred option, he was given a sedative to induce euthanasia. Within 10 minutes he drifted off to “sleep” in his hammock, surrounded by his buddies.
We extend a heartfelt thank you to all of our members who supported Bentley through the Adopt-a-Bat program over the past four years.
Like Bucko, Bentley’s first buddy here at Bat World, he passed away all too soon. Bentley will be sorely missed by all who knew him, and he will never be forgotten.
The poem below was written by talented Bat World member, Ted Clines:
By Ted Glines
This poem is a brief requiem for Bentley, a salute to the caregiving volunteers at Bat World, and it attempts to share a bit of information about his kind. My thanks to Julia Truelove (Oregon) who suggested the effort, for I learned much.
Bentley was a scary bat
as some would say – and that is that
ignorance builds mighty towers
and bats are full of evil powers
“blind as a bat” – so say those folks
whose “knowledge” base is full of jokes
but may we take a moment here
to make the air a bit more clear.
Sub-Saharan flying fox
lives in trees or caves in rocks
known to live for twenty years
in spite of traps and guns and spears
eyes far better than yours or mine
the smallest things they can define
the juice from fruit is what they gulp
lapping juice – discarding pulp
nocturnal hunters nightly roam
and dawn will find them safe at home
cacophony of gossip squeaking
thousands there all pressed together
sheltered safe from greed or weather
if we could know the things they’re saying
of loves and fears – maybe praying
we might feel a kinship growing
with perhaps compassion showing.
Never meant for zoos nor cages
flying free through all the ages
thirty inches span of wings
strong to fly above all things
soaring straight and oh so high
miles of forest passing by
sixteen miles of hunting range
where all is known – nothing strange
straw-colored hair on neck and spine
brown chest and belly fur so fine.
In 1981 – born in a zoo
rejected by his mother too
Bentley never knew the wild
enslaved unhappy misplaced child
imprisoned where no freedom plays
and that’s where Bentley spent his days
no appeal – no bargain gains
encaged for life “where freedom reigns”
but prisoned beasties cause abuse
and injured creatures have no u$e
zoos would rather put to sleep
those creatures they could cure and keep
it’s like big bu$ine$$ everywhere
the profit motive shows no care.
Thanks to gods or thanks to fate
Bentley was rescued – not too late
by Bat World folks of Mineral Springs
Texas folks – where love still sings
and Bentley spent his last four years
being nurtured – no more fears
until the day he passed away
to fly with angels – laughing play
where there’s always fruit enough
no bully beasts or zoos and stuff
no need to hide in fear or roam
at last dear Bentley flew on home.