Bella was rescued in 2018, along with 90 other fruit bats being held at Organization for Bat Conservation (OBC). OBC closed suddenly due to improprieties and alleged animal neglect. For two decades we had watched the sad conditions of the bats being used in countless programs across the U.S., so we jumped at the chance to offer these bats lifetime sanctuary. Read the entire story of the OBC rescue here.
Among the 90 bats we rescued, 50 were short-tailed fruit bats, Bella’s species. It was very sad to see how emotionally and physically neglected some of these bats were; in particular, the short-tailed fruit bats were thin and balding.
We were promised that none of the bats were pregnant, however, several of the smaller short-tailed fruit bats were indeed pregnant on arrival. These tiny future mothers were placed into an enriched flight area, segregated from the rest of the colony, to await the birth of their babies. One mother abandoned her baby, who was Bella. The stress of the transfer caused her mom to be unsure of her fate, not knowing that her life, and the life of her baby, would vastly improve.
We hand-raised little Bella until she was old enough to rejoin her mom and the rest of the colony. Within weeks Bella progressed to eating semi-solid food (banana in warm goats milk) and her table manners went right out the window. In a few more weeks she learned to eat fruit from a dish without any help, and she then began stretching and flapping her wings, indicating she was ready to fly.
We took her into the flight enclosure to let her practice and one by one roostmates began flying by, encouraging Bella to take off. Within days Bella was flying so well that she began flying circles around her caregivers when they entered the flight enclosure. Occasionally, Bella would playfully swat at her caregiver’s hair, which was her way of telling us that she wanted a treat!
Bella now likes to follow caregivers in the large flight enclosure every the morning, always playing with us by flicking our hair as she circles our heads. She is also very mischievous and steals melon treats from the bowl before we get a chance to hand them out to her roostmates.
Bella has a lifespan of 20 years and will spend it with us, in peace and happiness. Unlike her original colony, Bella will never know what it is like to be unloved or neglected. Bella will always be free to be herself and fly unencumbered throughout our expansive indoor-outdoor flight enclosures, chasing the wind and playfully swatting at her caregiver’s hair to her hearts content.