On September 22, 2016 (North Texas Giving Day) you were invited to watch us LIVE from 8:00 am until 11am-noon CST as we went through our daily routine at Bat World Sanctuary, cleaning enclosures, hand-feeding disabled bats and preparing bat food. 100% of all the money we raised on that day was deposited into our Food Account in order to provide food for the bats we care for and rescue next year. We needed to raise at least $35,000 to cover the cost of both food and medicine for 2017. Click here to view the results from Giving Day! Giving Day donations, as well as the donations we received through paypal and other means, totaled an astounding 40,515!!!
Here is a summary of what your donations have furnished for the bats:
$25 = 1 box of bananas (156 boxes needed annually)
$40 = 1 box apples (364 needed annually) or 1 box sweet potatoes (104 annually)
$50 = 1 box of pears (104 needed annually)
$250 = 40,000 meal worms (24 needed annually)
$500 = 5 days of food for both the fruit and insect eating bats
$1,000 = 10 days of food and medication for the sanctuary bats & those we rescue
$3,000 = 30 days of food and medication for the sanctuary bats & those we rescue
PLEASE ENJOY THIS FOOTAGE (including bloopers!) MADE FROM OUR LIVE CAMS ON 9/22/16.
Washington DC – The 2016 Carole Noon Award for Sanctuary Excellence recipient was announced by the Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries (GFAS). This year Amanda Lollar of GFAS-accredited Bat World Sanctuary was singled out for her leadership in supporting the welfare of bats as a caregiver, educator and advocate.
The Carole Noon Award for Sanctuary Excellence is given annually to a sanctuary or individual who embodies and puts into practice the GFAS philosophy of vision, dedication and excellence in animal care. It memorializes Carole Noon, founder of Save the Chimps in Fort Pierce, Florida, the world’s largest chimpanzee sanctuary.
“For decades, Amanda has been a tireless champion for this often misunderstood, maligned and underserved group of animals,” says Kellie Heckman, GFAS executive director. “She is the expert in captive bat care and management and an inspiration to all for her passion and dedication. We are excited and honored to provide her with the recognition she deserves.”
Amanda Lollar founded Bat World Sanctuary in Weatherford, TX in 1994, after rehabilitating her first injured bat in 1988. Amanda has since volunteered her time seven days a week, 365 days per year, 12 to 16 hours per day. The Sanctuary currently cares for over 200 permanent residents. Over the past two decades, Amanda has personally saved the lives of thousands of bats, including over 2,000 starving and injured orphaned bats which were hand-raised and released back to the wild.
Lollar shared her thoughts about the achievement, saying, “Bats are miraculous creatures that deserve our protection. They are highly intelligent, have remarkable language skills, and form deep social connections. It has been my life’s work and my greatest joy to defend and support the species. I thank GFAS for this monumental recognition and for all they do to protect the animals of the world by making certain Dr. Noon’s passion and compassion lives on.”
“Amanda has trained over 400 zoologists, veterinarians, and other animal care professionals from every bat-inhabited continent in the world. It is not an exaggeration to say that Amanda has saved hundreds of thousands of bats across the globe due to her hands-on ability and her willingness to share her knowledge. We are so very grateful to GFAS for bestowing this much-deserved award upon Amanda, who makes us proud each and every day,” elaborates Dottie Hyatt, Vice President of Bat World Sanctuary.
An award will be presented to Ms. Lollar in person at a ceremony in the fall at Bat World Sanctuary.
About Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries:
Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries (GFAS) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to the sole purpose of strengthening and supporting the work of animal sanctuaries/rescues worldwide. The goal of GFAS in working with and assisting sanctuaries/rescues is to ensure they are supported, honored, recognized and rewarded for meeting important criteria in providing care to the animals in residence. GFAS was founded in 2007 by animal protection leaders from a number of different organizations in response to virtually unchecked and often hidden exploitation of animals for human entertainment and financial profit. The GFAS Board of Directors guides the organization’s work in a collaborative manner. They represent top leadership from Born Free USA, The Humane Society of the United States, International Fund for Animal Welfare, and American Anti-Vivisection Society. For more information, visit: www.sanctuaryfederation.org.
We’ve been very busy rescuing orphaned and injured bats this summer. Included below are videos of Ernie, a young free-tailed bat rescued after being trapped inside a vacant building for at least two days; Mama Bear,, who suffered blunt force trauma; Munchkinface, who suffered a “lucky” fall; Gigi, a beautiful Seminole bat; and a free-tailed juvie who likely walked a mile on hot pavement before being rescued.
They have had thousands of bats roosting in their downtown buildings for several years. And even though they sometimes create an odor, the city wants the bats to stay in the area because of the tremendous amount of insect control these bats provide.
On May 21, 2016, Bat World’s Director of Special Projects, Kate Rugroden, met with approximately 15 residents and local officials from the City of Palestine and members of the East Texas Chapter of Master Naturalists, to discuss how best to handle the humane removal and ultimate preservation of several colonies of bats from historic buildings in the downtown Palestine area.
Several ideas were discussed, including installing bat houses on the affected buildings and installing ‘rocket’ style bat towers throughout the city. We also covered ways to engage the community, such as a bat fair, bat house building events, educational programs, and news articles/press releases.
One promising idea being considered is creating a sanctuary that has sufficient space around it for a decent perimeter as well as places to build patios for viewing. One building (built in 1913) suffered a catastrophic structural failure some years ago. Originally a 4-story structure, the 3rd and 4th floors collapsed and the roof fell in. One suggestion, which seems to have a lot of traction, is to have that building fitted out as a bat sanctuary. There are open areas on three sides of the building which would establish a safe perimeter and allow businesses to set up viewing areas, where visitors could watch the nightly emergence. The fourth side of the building contains large picture windows. The local middle and high school students could be given the opportunity to design educational window displays, paint murals, etc. City staff would be responsible for checking the building periodically, removing excess guano and ensuring the building is secure.
The project is expected to take several years to complete, given the number of buildings involved. The East Texas Master Naturalists will be active participants, assisting with outreach, public education, and building bat houses. Bat World Sanctuary’s involvement will include consulting on design and placement of bat houses, educational programs and materials, and providing contact information for additional resources.
We are extremely pleased to be part of this wonderful initiative, and the enthusiasm demonstrated by the people of Palestine for protecting the bats is encouraging beyond measure.
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. ♥
By Amanda Lollar, Founder & President, Bat World Sanctuary
In the early nineties, when I was still new at rehabbing bats, the common belief was that orphaned insectivorous bats could not be released back to the wild because they wouldn’t know how to catch food (according to research, their mothers taught them). After raising several orphans to young adulthood and watching them navigate a flight cage with ease I began to question the notion that they could not be released. After all, it was instinct for these orphans to fly and it was instinct for them to echolocate, so why wouldn’t they use those two skills to find food?
The orphans were rescued from our wild sanctuary of 100,000+ free-tailed bats. I decided to release a few hand-raised flighted orphans the following summer and then track their survival. I devised a way to permanently mark them that would not be detrimental to their health (such as banding, which is highly fatal). I finally decided on a small animal tattoo gun, and I chose the the right earlobe to mark the bat. The ear was chosen because it was easily visible when the bats hang upside down from the rafters. A microbat’s ears are very small so a number system could not be used. Instead I used simple dots. Throughout the nineties the only tattoo paste I found available was black. Then, in the early 2000’s I found green ink and switched to using that. Every orphan released in 2001 had one green dot, those released in 2002 had 2 green dots, and everything from 2003 forward had 3 green dots (because there simply wasn’t enough room on their tiny ears for more dots).
Every summer, after releasing orphans, I searched on a daily basis for a tattooed ear among the tens of thousands of faces and ears in the wild sanctuary. Finally, in 2008, a couple of weeks after releasing orphans, I found one hanging from the rafters. His belly was stuffed full, but with what? Could he have found a lactating female and been lucky enough to adopted by a new mom even though he was basically a teenager? As luck would have it he pooped in my hand when I lifted him off the rafter. This was very exciting because if his poop contained insect parts then it was proof that they could indeed find food on their own. I cradled the precious “sample” in my gloved hang like a teensy nugget of gold, took it back to our facility and examined it under a microscope. Low and behold, there were dozens of insect pieces, including shiny shell fragments from beetles. Finally, proof that insect-eating orphaned bats could be released and learn to forage for insects on their own.
But then more speculation arose: okay, so orphaned bats can be released and even survive, BUT, could they survive the annual migration to Mexico and back, and even raise young of their own? That question was answered when, finally, in 2010, I spotted a beautiful, healthy, lactating female on the rafters of our wild sanctuary with three green dots on her ear. Finding her among 100,000 other bats on the rafters was akin to finding a message in a bottle, something near impossible. She appeared to be around 5 years of age and she was proof that orphaned bats can be released, survive, migrate and even raise young of their own.
Over the past 20 years we’ve received thousands of calls from the public regarding grounded and injured bats. Over all these years I have continued to check the right ear of every single bat that came in, but never saw tattoo. On Sat night, August 15, 2015, around 10:30pm we received a call about a grounded bat in the city park. The bat was hoping on the ground and couldn’t get any lift. The caller had placed the bat into a box and called us right away. After we were back at the facility I had a chance to thoroughly examine the bat. She appeared old and seemed very tired, she had mites covering her wing membrane and her tail was injured. She has been grounded for a while because she was very thin. After hydrating her I did my usual check of the right ear and my jar dropped. There they were – two faded but magnificent green dots on her right ear. That meant she was saved as a starving orphan the summer of 2002, and she was now 13 years old. It took her a little while, but I could tell she slowly started to recognize her surroundings; the roosting pouches, the sounds of the other bats in rehab, and then finally the food, which she gratefully ate. She even nuzzled my finger when I stroked her tiny face after she ate.
The following morning I immediately went to check on her. Sadly, when I removed her from a roosting pouch I could tell she was dying. She passed away a few seconds later, in the same hands that saved her some 13 years ago. I am showing these photos after she died because she should be remembered for all she did during her lifetime. This beautiful, ragged little soul migrated over 30,000 miles on her way to and from Mexico every single year, she likely raised 6 to 8 youngsters of her own, and she ate an estimated 23,725,000 insect pests during her lifetime. And lastly, she is beyond a shadow of a doubt, 100% proof positive that orphaned insectivorous bats can indeed be released to live the rich, full lives they deserve.