In 2009 we rescued 50 short-tailed fruit bats from a zoo that was closing in FL. These bats had been kept in a snall flight area and allowed to reproduce uncontrollably, until there were over 400 bats. When the zoo closed, they reached out to other zoos and sanctuaries, and unfortunately exotic pet trade dealers in an attempt to place the bats. We opted to take all the females we could house (50, total) knowing that most of these girls were likely pregnant. We would have liked to take all the bats but sadly we did not have the room. However, accepting only females helped to prevent the number of “breeding stock” entering the exotic pet trade. Unfortunately, these bats are not indigenous to the US so could not be released back to the wild.
The zoo that housed these bats fed them off the floor of their flight enclosure. Water was also provided on the floor. The bats were forced to land on the floor to drink water and eat their fruit, which over time would become contaminated wit their waste due to the bats hanging overhead in the small flight enclosure. We were shocked that, on arrival, the crate we had supplied to the zoo to ship the bats to us contained an excessive amount of fruit on the bottom of the cage. Turbulence could have easily caused one of these bats to fall into the food. Additionally, none of the fruit was cut into small enough pieces to allow the bats to carry it back to the top of their cage to eat as they would do naturally. The only way the bats could eat was to lay on top of the fruit and chew off what they could.
Today the female bats are doing very well. Some had babies, which will live out their lives at Bat World. The boys that were born were neutered to prevent future breeding. The bats now enjoy eating their fresh fruit from bowls that hang from the ceiling of their cage, drinking fresh, clean water, and playing with toys and other forms of enrichment scattered through the 55′ flight enclosure at Bat World Sanctuary. Click photos below to enlarge.