So often we are asked, “How is it that you have bats from around the world? From where do you get your bats?” Well, the majority are obtained from the general public; people who find orphans or a bat laying helpless in a parking lot. Orphans also come from our wild sanctuary, and still, others are retired from zoos and research and are seized from the illegal pet trade. And then there is the rare exception, the bat that arrives without our knowledge; the special package concealed in a mother’s tummy. It is about this exceptional life that we bring you the story of an infant straw-colored fruit bat that arrived on May 18th, 2007.
Bianca, the mother, was brought to us in March of 07. She had suffered inhumane circumstances so we gave her a lot of space in order to gain her trust. It was rewarding to watch her slim frame grow larger with the plentiful food she received. But based on experience, the roundness that developed over the next few months was unmistakable. Bianca was with the pup.
A few evenings later we heard the calls of a newly born bat pup and went into the fruit bat’s flight cage expecting to see that all was well. However, instead of clinging to Bianca’s stomach, the pup was dangling from her back. Bianca resisted any help when we gently tried to scoot the baby around to her front, making a hasty retreat and almost knocking her pup loose as she dragged it along the plastic screening of the cage. The pup desperately hung on for dear life but the mother made no attempt to help it. We kept a watchful eye on the pair for the next hour, noting sadly that the mother was not attempting to nurse or even nurture her pup. Two hours passed, and on our last inspection at midnight we found the precious baby girl lying cold on the floor of the flight cage.
The pup’s tiny form was quickly gathered and warmed as we took her into the hospital area, where it was discovered that her toes were severely damaged, most likely from being dragged along the screen mesh of the cage. She would never have a quality life if we did not save her toes. We had to quickly devise a means to protect them. We used finger cots to cover her injured feet, filling them with antibiotic ointment before slipping them over her tiny feet.
Days passed. The tiny girl clung to life, despite her cold introduction to life. She looked forward to her meals, greedily sucking down her goats-milk formula from a small latex puppy nursery. Weeks passed and her toes slowly healed. Eventually, her little protective ‘boots’ were no longer needed. It was time to give this special girl a name. As luck would have it, an internet search of African names brought us *Busana – Girl of the Night Moon*. Because of her special circumstances, we decided on a slight variation, “Bootsanna”.
For the first 10 weeks of her life, Bootsanna carried a soft puppy nurser (her pacifier) in her mouth all the time and yelled whenever she dropped it. She continued to yell – almost brat-like – until someone placed it back into her mouth. At around 10 weeks of age, she decided a banana was better than a nurser, so solid food (which she also yelled for) was slowly introduced. Every day Bootsanna was also given flapping exercises, as much as she enjoyed.
She spent lots of time playing on her two baskets; one was used for feeding and playtime and another one was used for sleeping. Bootsanna loved to ‘bat at’ her numerous toys and silk flowers, spending an hour or more entertaining herself before sleep would finally overtake her. Eventually, we were able to hang her basket inside the fruit bat’s flight cage so she could slowly get used to the other fruit bats
Bootsanna is now living full-time with the fruit bats in their large flight enclosure and enjoying her rightful place in just being a bat.