Daffodil, a street rescue that came to us in 2006 with an embedded collar, passed away on April 11th, 2016 from a tumor that was diagnosed too late to successfully treat. Daffy loved to interact with volunteers and waited in line for sweet potato pieces (the ends that were cut off the potatoes served to the fruit bats on kabobs). She also loved to play “crevice-dwelling bat” in her bed. Her position at Bat World Sanctuary included volunteer greeter and “UPS alerter”. Daffy, along with Kizmet, are buried on Bat World’s land in a beautiful spot under a big oak tree. Daffodil bulbs were planted over Daffy’s grave in her Honor. Good bye, sweet Daffodil, we will always love you. ♥
On February 3rd, 2016, a plea for help on our Facebook page about an issue in Houston, Texas that involved an elderly woman beating free-tailed bats with her cane. The news video that was included made it appear as though the woman was helpless and the bats were invading her home. However, free-tailed bats are shy and secretive. They hide in cracks and crevices as well as attics and caves. They do not hang out in the open. These bats would have to be pulled out of their roost in order to be beaten. Free-tailed bats have an intelligence level equivalent to that of dolphins. They have a complicated social structure that includes over 25 different vocalizations that make up their language. Mother free-tails only have one young per year and if anything happens to her pup, a mother will openly grieve for days with her mournful cries. Free-tailed bats are capable of eating up to 5,000 harmful flying insects nightly and they have a lifespan of over 15 years. Each bat that this woman killed had the potential of eating 27,375,000 harmful insects in its lifetime.
Because Houston is 300 miles from Bat World Sanctuary, we immediately alerted rescuers in the area well as Marcelino Benito, the reporter at KHOU 11 news who covered the story and asked to be contacted if anyone could help. We left messages with Mr. Benito through email and his Facebook page that night as well as the following morning. We also put in calls first thing the following morning to our local game warden, KHOU 11 news, and our good friends at 911Wildlife, a humane exclusion company who works on behalf of wildlife as well as people. 911Wildlife was founded by Bonnie Bradshaw, a fellow wildlife rehabilitator. With offices throughout Texas, including Houston, they were able to immediately respond to this tragedy. 911Wildlife arrived at the woman’s house early that same morning and donated their time and equipment to humanely exclude the bats so no more would be needlessly killed. They also did a thorough search for survivors. Sadly, only five bats out of potentially hundreds survived her beatings. The 911Wildife crew transferred these tiny, broken souls to a local rescuer we had on standby, and the Houston Five are now with Bat World Sanctuary.
Later, we sent an email to Mr. Benito asking why he didn’t actually seek help for this woman. Having access to the internet granted him a wealth of information he could have easily used to help her. Instead, he chose to demonize bats in his report while filming her sickening brutality -which had apparently been going on for years. Mr. Benito never responded to any of my emails or Facebook messages, nor the messages of dozens of other conservation-minded supporters. Many people wrote to express their extreme disappointment at the lack of any helpful information that KHOU 11 news provided for this woman or the bats. Instead, they chose to sensationalize bats and deepen the fears of people who don’t know better.
The five bats were transferred to a rescuer we had on standby, and the following evening they arrived at our rescue center Bat World MidCities where Kate Rugroden, our Director of Special Projects stayed up most of the night treating and stabilizing their injuries. Sadly, one of the five survivors, Ella, died the following morning.
If there is a brighter note to this story it is that dozens of people came together in a show of concern for these bats and the elderly woman as well. And best of all, this colony of bats will no longer be in harms way since they have been humanely excluded. A very special thank you to Bonnie and her crew at 911Wildlife – the bats would not have had a chance without your intervention. Thank you, Marsha P., who remained on standby to receive the bats and thank you, Marzi P., who made an 11-hour trip in one day to transport the bats back to our Mid-Cities rescue center.
The remaining survivors, Timmy, Dash, Jane Ann, and Bee have fully recovered and will live their lives at our Bat World MidCities rescue center. Going forward, the Houston Four will always know the peace, comfort and respect they so deserve.
After an intensive application process that included complete transparency on finances, budgets, long-term goals, policies, record keeping, employees, operating procedures, oversight, animal care sheets, veterinary care, budgets, emergency protocols and contingency plans, we are so proud to say that we are now accredited with the prestigious Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries (GFAS). We have been verified with GFAS for some time as well as accredited with the American Sanctuary Association, however, full accreditation with GFAS has always been our ultimate goal.
“It is heartwarming to see animals that are so often misunderstood and mistreated receiving the high quality, life-long care and respect they deserve at Bat World Sanctuary. Bat World Sanctuary truly maintains the welfare of the bats as their highest priority as demonstrated by their individualized intensive care of non-releasable bats and the extremely high survival rates of the bats they rescue, rehabilitate and release back into the wild”, says, Kellie Heckman, Executive Director of GFAS
Achieving GFAS Accreditation means Bat World Sanctuary meets the comprehensive and rigorous definition of an exceptional sanctuary and as such provides humane and responsible care for bats and meets the rigorous standards for operations, administration, and veterinary care established by GFAS. The accreditation status provides a clear and trusted means for public, donors, and government agencies to recognize and trust Bat World Sanctuary as an true sanctuary.
On February 3rd, 2016, around 10pm, I was just wrapping up the day when I saw a plea for help on our Facebook page from Lisa G, about an issue in Houston Texas that involved an elderly woman beating helpless free-tailed bats to death with her cane. (Caution, disturbing video on this link.)
The video sickened me to the core, and I was further frustrated by the fact that Houston is over 300 miles away from Bat World Sanctuary. The video also made it appear as though the woman was helpless and the bats were invading her home. However, free-tailed bats are shy and secretive. They hide in cracks and crevices as well as attics and caves. They do not hang out in the open. These bats would have to be pulled out of their roost in order to be beaten to death. Keep in mind that these animals have an intelligence level equivalent to that of dolphins. They have a complicated social structure that includes over 25 different vocalizations that make up their language. Mother free-tails only have one young per year and if anything happens to her pup, a mother will openly grieve for days with her mournful cries. Free-tailed bats are capable of eating up to 5,000 harmful flying insects nightly and they have a lifespan of over 15 years. Each bat that was killed had the potential of eating 27,375,000 harmful insects in its lifetime.
Because it was so late, my only recourse was to alert rescuers in the area as well as Marcelino Benito, the reporter at KHOU 11 News who covered the story and asked to be contacted if anyone could help. I left messages with Mr. Benito through email and his Facebook page that night as well as the following morning. I also put in calls first thing the following morning to our local game warden, KHOU 11 news, and our good friends at 911Wildlife, a humane exclusion company who works on behalf of wildlife as well as people. 911Wildlife was founded by Bonnie Bradshaw, a fellow wildlife rehabilitator. With offices throughout Texas, including Houston, they were able to immediately respond to this tragedy. 911Wildlife arrived at the woman’s house early that same morning and donated their time and equipment to humanely exclude the bats so no more would be needlessly killed. They also did a thorough search for survivors. Sadly, only five bats out of potentially hundreds survived her beatings. The 911Wildife crew transferred these tiny, broken souls to a local rescuer we had on standby, and the Houston Five are now with Bat World Sanctuary.
Later, I sent an email to Mr. Benito asking why he didn’t actually seek help for this woman. Having access to the internet granted him a wealth of information he could have easily used to help her. Instead, he chose to demonize bats in his report while filming her sickening brutality -which had apparently been going on for years. He even stood by while still-alive bats were thrown into a trash bag. Mr. Benito never responded to any of my emails or Facebook messages, nor the messages of dozens of other conservation-minded supporters. Many people wrote to express their extreme disappointment at the lack of any helpful information that KHOU 11 news provided for this woman or the bats. Instead, they chose to sensationalize bats and deepen the fears of people who don’t know better.
If there is a brighter note to this story it is that this colony of bats will no longer be in harms way since they have been humanely excluded. Dozens of people came together in a show of concern for these bats and the elderly woman as well. Thank you to all of you who emailed and called us out of concern for these bats, and thank you, especially Bonnie and crew at 911Wildlife – the bats would not have had a chance without your intervention. Thank you, Marsha P., who received the bats and thank you, Marzi P., who made an 11-hour trip in one day to transport the bats back to our Mid-Cities rescue center, where Kate, our Director of Special Projects stayed up most of the night treating and stabilizing the survivors.
As of this morning, the Houston Five -Timmy, Dash, Ella, Jane Ann, and Bee- are slowly recovering. Dash is in the best shape; she has some facial abrasions and internal bruising, but no fractures. Ella and Jane Ann are not in quite as good shape; they both had to have a full amputation and also have internal bruising. Timmy and Bee are in the worst shape; Timmy had a wing amputation and also a broken leg while Bee had a full amputation and severe internal injuries. All five bats are resting comfortably now, with pain medication, antibiotics, and vitamin supplements and all have started eating decent amounts of food (an increase in appetite is always a good sign!). They will remain in a ‘Hospital Hut’ for a few more days while their injuries stabilize. All of the bats are also receiving an iron supplement as they are anemic due to internal injuries. We are cautiously optimistic that they will all pull through, however, we will not be confident for at least another week.
Note: While amputations of a wing may seem extreme, bats, like dogs, can live rich, full lives without the use of a limb. The highly social and terrestrial nature of free-tailed bats in particular allows them to enjoy life outside of flight.
UPDATE – Feb 8, 2016:
Sadly, Ella passed away the day after posting this story, however, the remaining Houston Four, under the expert care of Kate Rugroden, our Director of Special projects, have now fully recovered. They will live their lives out in peace and comfort at our Bat World MidCities rescue center.
UPDATE – Feb 24, 2016:
The four survivors, now known as The Houston Four, have fully recovered and have adjusted to their new life at our rescue center, Bat World MidCities. The photo below was taken 2/24/16.
For a rescue facility, the importance of a back-up system in the event of a power failure cannot be underestimated. The back-up system we had in our previous location consisted of wearing headlamps to work, then cleaning the enclosures and preparing food in near darkness until the power was restored. Normally the power only went off for a couple of hours at the most, however, one memorable summer the power went out for over 18 hours during orphan season. Orphans require temperatures of 95 to 110 degrees Fahrenheit. With no power the incubator could not work, however, with no air conditioning the building stayed at a comfortable (for them) 100°F so they were quite cozy. The orphans also needed round-the-clock feedings of warmed milk formula, which was impossible to heat in an all electric facility. I improvised and heated their formula over the open flame of an old-fashioned oil lamp, which worked wonderfully. However, feeding the babies under the light of a headlamp proved challenging because it was so heavy from perspiration that it kept slipping over my eyes.
In the event the power failed during the winter, we had two large indoor kerosene heaters capable of heating the entire building. The heaters were critical because fruit bats cannot withstand cold temperatures, in fact, temperatures below 40°F can be fatal to fruit bats.
Thankfully, in our previous location the power rarely went out, however, in our new location it appears to be a regular occurrence with every storm that passes through. The fact that we are on a small hill makes matters worse, because twice last year the snow and ice made it impossible for power trucks (or anyone else) to drive up the hill. On top of that, our new facility is much larger than the old one, so it a is huge inconvenience to not be able to do the daily wash of the 25 sheets that line the floor of the fruit bat enclosure, much the panic that sets in over potential food spoilage.
It has always been our goal to one-day have a back-up generator in place. We thought it would take much longer to reach this goal, but thankfully, with the help of some very special donors, we did not have to wait. In January our generators were installed. This wonderful piece of security automatically kicks on in the event of a power failure and it will run for an extended period of time in the event of a total black-out. We opted for two smaller generators rather than one large one, which was less expensive and also saves on propane as only one generator kicks on at a time. When more power is needed, the 2nd generator then kicks on.
A very special thank you to the donors who made this happen for the bats as well as the staff who takes care of their needs. There are not enough words for the appreciation and relief we feel to finally have a generator in place. A special thank you as well to David Allen at Circle A Electric, Knight Propane and Chavez Fencing for the great work you provided as well as the discounts you gave to our nonprofit organization. We are almost looking forward to the next storm that passes through. 😉
As you may recall from our 2015 year-end annual report, we only needed $13,000 to pay off the large construction loan we secured in 2013 in order to build our new facility. Well, we have fantastic news! Your support, along with a tremendous donation of $50,000 and the sale of our former property, enabled us to pay the entire loan in December and Bat World is now 100% debt free! Bat World Sanctuary truly is a “Forever Place for Bats in Need”, and thousands of bats like little Victoria (pictured below) will be saved, for decades to come, because of you. What a magical way to begin the New Year.
Little Victoria is our first rescue of 2016. She was one of several evening bats using the hollow of a dead tree as a roost. Unfortunately the tree was about to fall into the street so the homeowners had to remove it. In cutting a section they discovered a small colony of evening bats roosting in a knothole. The startled bats flew off, but as the homeowners moved that section of the tree out of the way they discovered little Victoria hiding in another crevice, bleeding where the saw blade had nicked her tiny body. Thankfully, the concerned homeowners immediately called us for help. Victoria has a lacerated ear, a broken wrist, finger fractures on one wing, and a forearm fracture on the other wing. This photo was taken after she arrived at our rescue center, Bat World MidCities on Jan 13th (she had received pain medication and antibiotics before this picture was taken). Victoria is doing much better today but unfortunately she is not releasable so she’ll live out her life at Bat World with others of her kind.
Your support enabled Victoria to be rescued and supported for the remainder of her life with every conceivable bat creature comfort, in a simulated natural environment with others of her own kind. Thank you to every one of you; no matter the size of the donation, it took all of you, from those who donated $5 to the anonymous donor who gave the astounding $50,000 donation. Every penny that came in made Bat World Sanctuary a forever place for bats in need so innocent beings like Victoria have a sanctuary to live out their lives with all the freedom their healed injuries allow. On behalf of Victoria and all the bats yet to be saved in the years ahead, thank you from the bottom of our hearts. ♥
Isis, an Egyptian fruit bat (Rousettus aegyptiacus) came to us from an amusement park where she hung in a small glass cage and endured crowds of loud people gawking at her day and night (click here to read her story). Only when she was elderly and had developed cataracts was she finally allowed the peaceful life she deserved. It took her several weeks to trust her new caretakers and look forward to the melon treats that always came with soft voices. Toward the end Isis rarely left her little hammock that she liked to recline on with two other elderly Egyptian fruit bat friends. She passed away in her sleep on November 5, 2015. Good bye sweet Isis, you are sorely missed each and every day.
It is with a heavy heart that we bring you the news that Poppy, an Indian Flying Fox (Pteropus giganteus), has passed away. Poppy came to us in 2012 after being retired from a zoo where she was used for educational programs. She was often expected to “perform” by stretching our her wings, something she grew to dislike and consequently showed her displeasure by biting her handler. After she reached us it took her over a year to trust the fact that nothing would ever be required of her, she simply had to be herself. Over the past few months Poppy had become less active and liked to lay in her hammock where she was close to food and water. She eagerly looked forward to her twice daily treats that were hand delivered to her during daily checks. She left us all too soon on Oct. 27th, after suffering heart problems. Her life was filled with happiness at Bat World Sanctuary; we just wish her time with us could have been much, much longer. Please click here to read more about Poppy’s life with us.
Many zoos provide enrichment and quality of life for the bats in their care and and take the time to neuter male fruit bats to prevent excess reproduction. However, most do not, and bats suffer the horrible consequences. Because of a lack of population control with bats housed in zoos across the US, the bats often abandon their young, suffer from over crowding, lack of enough food and flight space, and early death. In an effort to control excess populations, some zoos resort to outright culling, supplying bats to research (where they are ultimately euthanized) and even supplying unscrupulous pet trade dealers with fruit bats who end up in cramped cages where they are used for breeding. Babies are often ripped away from their mothers and then sold at hundreds to thousands of dollars to the unsuspecting public, as these young bats typically die within their first year when kept as pets.
Below is actual text received from and about accredited and non-accredited zoos across the US over the past few years:
Quotes from individuals regarding the disposal of fruit bats by AZA accredited zoos:
1) “When I told the director that baby vampire bats were being washed down the drain when the exhibit was hosed out, he said “consider it a means of population control.'””
2) “I talked with Ryan, the pet store owner I know, and he found out the Egyptians are from the Memphis Zoo. He has a friend in Austin that bought several. They are all males.”
3) “These are Leaf-nose Fruit Bats from S. America. I have already got the lecture about what zoos are doing with surplus bats. I am not a zoo, and do not agree with most of the things they do. … I am hoping to get some information on this before more babies fail to survive. The ones I have dealt with so far have a good to great appetite, but don’t survive 24 hours.”
4) “It is outrageous the way smaller bats are mis-managed, and a welfare issue. The surpluses available are ridiculous eg 200.200 from Central Park Zoo! …..most zoos are simply not able (or willing) to separate the sexes, and even when they do they often sex the animals incorrectly and one male gets a field day!”
5) “I just received a call from the Cincinnati Museum regarding a man in Cincinnati who owns a pet store. Apparently he is gearing up to accept “leaf-nose fruit bats” from a zoo in NC. This zoo is doling them out much like the other zoo … in FL.”
6) “Apparently it has become routine for zoos to indiscriminately supply the pet trade with their surplus fruit bats. This practice seems highly irresponsible and cruel. What can be done to stop this? Why is population control never considered?”
7) “A friend of mine has recently been given about 200 Leaf-nose Fruit Bats that were left over from a zoo that closed. Many of them have babies or have given birth since he acquired them. Many others appear to be pregnant. Some of the babies have been dropping off and he has not been successful in keeping the alive. He gave two to me…”
8) “I am extremely concerned that bats will end up in the pet trade. … I do not know if this is still happening and if you hear of any please let me know.The Memphis information is disturbing and I will follow up with them. At the very least they should be neutering bats before they send them out…”
9) “I have a group of about 80 Jamaican fruits bats that we have used in testing flight skills. …the Denver Zoo wanted to give me all 400 they have on site if they could have as their situation is out of control.”
Direct quotes made by zookeepers from both accredited and non-accredited zoos regarding fruit bats in their care:
1) “I work with a colony of Seba’s short-tailed bats (Carollia perspicillata) in captivity and lately we have been noticing a dramatic increase in the number of juvenile deaths. We have been unable to determine the reason why and it is driving us crazy! Necropsies have not been helpful the bats are so small that by the time we manage to get them to the necropsy room they are usually autolyzed.”
2) ” … we experienced overcrowding with our Rousettus colony in the past before we made them a single-sex colony and cut down on the number of specimens significantly their reactions were rejecting their babies and engaging in feeding frenzy behavior where they would devour absolutely everything offered to them in record time.”
3) “The injured bats crawl around on the floor sometimes, and are able to fly for very short stints (maybe a couple of seconds, tops); they always return to their little cave, and so really are almost never seen by the public anyway.”
4) “When we had more Jamaicans, we used to get questions from the public about them, because they would crawl on the floor sometimes, but since we now have only 9 left, among all the other bats in the flight, they are hardly even noticed.”
5) “I find it really funny that you have someone looking for Egyptian fruit bats now, because a year ago when we were trying to change over to a single-sex colony, we had so much trouble finding places for them – no one wanted Egyptian fruit bats!”
6) “…about 10 Jamaican fruit bats (all-male and all ancient, the colony has been there since our building opened in 1995, but we are now trying to phase them out),…”
Bats are not disposable commodities, they are thinking, intelligent beings who develop strong -and even lifelong- bonds with family members. Bats are capable of living 25 years or more when provided with a proper environment and care. Bats in the pet trade generally die within the first years due to loneliness, depression and lack of proper care.
Please sign the petition urging the Association of Zoos and Aquariums to immediately stop pushing bats into research and the cruel exotic pet trade, and to neuter all surplus male bats as well as provide an enriched lifetime of care for every bat in their possession.