When the Houston Zoo contacted us asking to retire a beautiful, 16-year-old Indian flying fox, of course, we said, “Yes.” After learning we had two other Indian flying foxes they wanted to send him to Bat World so he would not be alone. Their bat exhibit closed and their flying fox was the last to be placed in a different facility.
“Captain Majestic”, as our wonderful vet named him, arrived in March 2019. He was apprehensive on arrival with his eyes showing fear in not knowing his fate. He had not seen or heard other bats in quite some time, so we hoped the chatter of the other bats would calm him. The sound of the other bats, as well as our soft tones when we spoke to him, seemed to work. Within two days he was taking treats from our hands and seemed curious about his new surroundings.
After receiving a full health check, he was allowed to join the other bats and quickly made new friends, however, because he had never truly learned how to be with other bats, and had never seen another of his same species since he was born, he was a bit aggressive, chasing and swatting at other bats on occasion. To be on the safe side we covered his nails with vinyl nail caps made for cat claws so he could not injure any of the smaller bats. Bat caregiver, Addison McCool, decided pink would put a nice damper on his “he-man” demeanor.
Over the following months, The Captain’s personality emerged and he became the sweet boy we always knew he could be. He is exceedingly happy in his new world. Roaming the large enclosure nightly to see what new fruits and juices will be found in the many areas where food enrichment is placed.
At Bat World, both the natural world and the simulated world collide in the best of ways. The bats have expansive flight enclosures to utilize their wings, with thickly padded floors so the bats do not get hurt if they accidentally fall. They are exposed to foliage and trees and protective cover but they also are provided with toys and vines made of rope and special nectar feeders as enrichment in a captive environment. It is so rewarding to watch him explore each night with bright, inquisitive eyes that no longer hold any fear, just pure happiness.