It has been said that bats are the realization of the Fairy of the Wood, keeper of the caves, custodians to the secrets of the night. And so it was on a hot August night in 2009, like a heavenly angel descending through the darkened sky, came Ethereal. One of the rarest bats in the entire world, a completely white (albino) micro bat, seen approximately once every 7-10 years by those involved in the world of bats.
Ethereal was found seeking refuge at Bat World’s wild sanctuary, scampering and slipping as she tried to make her way across a beam. She was very thin, under-nourished and in poor condition. She was quickly recovered from the beam and brought into the hospital at Bat World. She was only a juvenile, petite and gentle; not yet full grown, but her sweet personality was already distinctive.
Albino bats are easy prey for predatory birds and other nocturnal creatures. Because there was an owl perched near the wild sanctuary, Ethereal was an effortless target. We decided to take her into protective care so she could live her life without fear of predators.
Albinos are often not as long lived as other mammals as they can be predisposed to health problems. Ethereal passed away very suddenly and unexpectedly on July 4th, 2013 from pneumonia, likely brought on by albinism immunodeficiency as her condition did not respond to treatment. She passed away not quite reaching 4 years of age.
Goodbye precious Ethereal, our sweet little Fairy of the Wood. There will never be another soul like yours, and you will be forever missed.
She spent the first ten years of her life in a New York apartment, in a dirty, bare, wooden-frame cage with a chicken wire ceiling. The young bat shared this cage with her only roostmate, her mother. The cage held no enrichment, no place to hide from the daylight, and no- where to sleep comfortably. Then, as fate would have it, the person who kept the mother and daughter bats in these conditions died, and their lives finally changed.
In January of 2000, Director of Mercer County Wildlife Center, in Titusville, NJ received the call about the bats after wildlife officials found numerous other exotic pets in the house of the man who had passed away. Their conditions improved at the center, and they were cared for by a staff of volunteers. Then, in a tragic turn of events, a rat made its way into the center one night and chewed into the cage that the mother and daughter bats shared. The rat attacked and subsequently devoured the mother bat, sparing the daughter.
The daughter was then transferred into a bird cage for safety, and moved to a different building. Because she now had no roostmate, the staff provided her with a stuffed StellaLuna bat doll with which she cuddled. She was used for public presentations for the next year. Then, in May of 2006 she injured and broke her leg while in the bird cage. After that, her health began to rapidly deteriorate.
In November of 2006, the daughter bat -now 16 years old- arrived to us lying in a box padded with
baby blankets. When the lid opened she looked up in fright with watery, old eyes that spoke of her past horrors. Her tiny body had a yellowish tint, indicating poor nutrition and possibly the beginning stages of liver disease. Her fur was sparse and patchy, and the foot of the previously broken leg pointed backwards in the direction it had healed. The knee in the opposite leg appeared to be swollen with arthritis, perhaps from the stress of only having one good leg with which to hang. The trip had taken its toll on her frail body, and at first we feared she might not survive.
But this tiny girl had fortitude; she fought her way back with all her might. We decided to call her Stella, both for the doll that helped her through her lonely period, and because of the popular book StellaLuna, a story about a mother and daughter fruit bat who become separated.
Unable to hang for the first few days, we placed Stella in a padded pouch that rested inside a small mesh enclosure until she was well enough to join the other bats in the flight cage (top photo). We started her on liver medication, and her coloring, along with her energy, vastly improved. Arthritis medicine helped her painful, swollen knee, and before long her eyes were clear and bright, and she could once again hang upside-down. As Stella’s health progressed, she was slowly moved into the flight cage, gradually spending more and more time until she was strong enough to remain there throughout the night. We created custom ‘Stella-sized’ hammocks in select locations in the flight cage, so she could rest her diminutive body and crippled legs during the process.
Within months, Stella was bright-eyed, inquisitive and full of life. She chose favorite toy as well, a miniature bird mirror with curly-cues around the frame.
During Stella’s final years, we tried very hard to erase her bad memories as well as the horrific sorrow she must have endured during the tragic loss of her mother. We filled her nights with happiness, good health and plentiful foods, brightly colored toys, and dozens of warm and cuddly bat friends.
This courageous little bat was with us nearly five years, having survived a bleak existence in a stark, wire cage with her mother. When she arrived, her lack of fur, dull eyes and stunted size confirmed she had endured more than any creature should have. Stella was a miniature delight who passed away peacefully in her sleep as she rested in the hammock she loved so much, amongst the comfort of her adopted family.
Rest in Peace precious Stella, your sweet soul will be forever missed.
Although not a bat, Poopley, a 16-year resident of Bat World Sanctuary is deserving of a Loving Tribute.
Poopley came in as a foster dog and ended up a permanent and beloved part of Bat World Sanctuary. He came to us with a chronic intestinal problem, for which he became aptly named. During his time at the sanctuary, he witnessed our facility undergo major renovations, including enlargement of flight enclosures and the recovery room, and the coming and going of numerous visitors from around the world. Poopley was adored by hundreds of workshop attendees, and almost everyone took photos of him. He loved to dress up, his favorite costume being a bat cape and ears.
He was approximately 2 years of age when he came to Bat World, making him 18 years of age when he passed away. One of his favorite spots was in the office, where he was on constant patrol for UPS and the mailman.
Poopley was cremated and is now with us in the office at all times. Good-by “Mr. Poopley-do”. Not a day goes by that you are not deeply missed.
Bert was a lion-hearted little brown bat who survived all odds.
In early spring of 2002, Bert was found in the sub-zero snowdrifts of Glacier National Park in Alaska, barely clinging to life. The wings that once carried him so well, the ears that once twitched as they echolocated and the tail pouch that held his nightly catch, were all now consumed by the insidious effects of frostbite. But through the caring heart of the Park Wilderness Manager, Bert was rescued from his frozen environment and brought to safety. Bat World was contacted to see if it was possible to save Bert’s life and give him a quality captive care life. Through the cooperation of Alaska Fish and Game, this tiny miracle of miracles that weighed less than a quarter, was placed in a specially designed 20 lb., heavily padded, bat transport case and shipped on an Alaskan Airlines jet that was met at midnight at the Dallas, TX Airport. Bert was immediately transferred to Bat World Sanctuary where he received the critical care he so desperately needed.
Bert bravely accepted his fate as the effects of the frostbite claimed his delicate fingers, thumbs, forearms, ears and tail. Slowly these vital parts of his body turned to necrotic tissue and eventually had to be removed. But through it all, Bert persevered, maintained his pleasant disposition and nuzzled his tiny face against his caregiver’s hand to let her know everything was okay. Bert is one of those rare creatures who gave inspiration to those around him. He learned to self-feed and seemed very happy in the specially padded cage that he shared with another non-releasable little brown bat named Emmy. He had padded cave rocks, a lush foliage ceiling and a one-inch thick foam floor with flannel coverings in the winter to keep him warm and sheeting in the summer to keep him cool.
Bert spent several years with us before passing away of kidney failure. He remained faithful to his lady-love Emmy throughout his short life with us. Bert was truly a lion-hearted tiny miracle, and to this day is sorely missed.
Annie arrived to us in February of 2002, in a small, plastic container. She was clinging desperately to a thin cloth, her only protection.
Her mouth contained rotten, abscessed reminders of glistening, white teeth. It was hard to believe that her sparse, dry fur was once thick and golden brown. Large bald spots revealed a gaunt form underneath. Her tiny, trembling body weighed only half of what it should, making her head appear over-sized. But despite all that she had lost, her dignity remained.
Annie was part of an educational exhibit owned by a science center on the east coast and was one of only two survivors of the eight big browns that the center originally obtained. Annie was acquired by the center in September of 1996 at about three years of age. Her medical records revealed horrible neglect over the course of several years.
Although we could never give Annie what had been taken from her, we gave her the medical attention she desperately needed. Annie was started on antibiotics immediately after she arrived. She were hydrated, groomed and fed a blended, high-calorie insect mixture. The following day all of Annie’s teeth were extracted. The healing response was almost immediate.
Annie gained weight and grew a beautiful new coat of fur. She spent the next four years in a flight cage with 50 non-releasable bats of various species, never again having to endure the bright lights of being on display to the public. Annie was hand-fed all she could eat two times a day, and seemed immensely happy. In November of 2006, Annie succumbed to liver failure. She endured so much in her short life, and we are happy that her final years with us were happy and pain free. Annie was a brave soul who will never be forgotten.
Mickey Bat arrived in grave condition after being bitten on the head by a brown recluse spider. We did not expect him to survive, but despite the pain he must have endured his will to live never faltered. Months later, when his head was completely healed, he was left with disfigured, mouse-like ears earning him the name “Mickey Bat.”
Mickey Bat enjoyed life to the fullest. He personally “owned” three roosting pouches on one wall of the miniature cave he shared with 40+ roost-mates. Only girls were allowed inside his rocks. He stayed very busy chasing the boys away. At feeding time he’d poke his little head out of his main roosting pouch and look directly at us with his bright, mischievous eyes. Then, he’d scamper down with the speed of lightning to the feeding station below his roost, where he’d tuck himself into a feeding pouch to wait for his dinner. Mickey Bat was hand fed all the mealworms he wanted twice a day. And by the look of his half-closed eyes while he was munching worms, he enjoyed every second of it.
His will to live remained strong to the very end but the spider venom that originally poisoned his system eventually took its toll, damaging his liver beyond repair. Although he had been on medication for his liver he had grown increasingly weak during the spring of 2005. We knew his time was near when he didn’t come out of his pouch to see us at feeding time one day. Two short days later Mickey Bat lost the battle he fought so strongly to win. Mickey Bat set a shining example of living life to its fullest despite adversity.
Postscript: Mickey Bat’s case has brought us new knowledge in treating insect bites in micro-bats. A spider bite case came in almost identical to Mickey Bat. After just four weeks of treatment “Peter Parker” was completely healed, ears intact, and was able to be released back to the wild.
Our oldest and dearest resident, Bentley, an African straw-colored flying fox (Eidolon helvum) passed away in the fall of 2004.
Bentley was born in a zoo in 1981 and hand-reared after his mother rejected him. He spent 19 years on display in various zoos, where he was picked on by more aggressive males and received various injuries that included the loss of his lower lip. Bentley was consequently confined to a cage by himself for over 12 years, where he became malnourished and developed psychological problems from being alone. Bentley found refuge at Bat World Sanctuary in June of 2000, shortly after we learned of his condition and that he was scheduled to be euthanized.
Although Bentley was only with us for four short years, we are thankful we were able to give him the rich life he so deserved, and he seemed truly happy in his final years. He had older roost-mates for company, slept in soft hammocks suspended from the ceiling during the day and enjoyed enrichment like fruit kabobs throughout the night. Watermelon was among his favorite foods. He loved to chow down on it; whether on a kabob or being held.
When Bentley’s health began to rapidly decline we suspected his time was near. When his quality of life reached the point where euthanasia was the preferred option, he was given a sedative to induce euthanasia. Within 10 minutes he drifted off to “sleep” in his hammock, surrounded by his buddies.
We extend a heartfelt thank you to all of our members who supported Bentley through the Adopt-a-Bat program over the past four years.
Like Bucko, Bentley’s first buddy here at Bat World, he passed away all too soon. Bentley will be sorely missed by all who knew him, and he will never be forgotten.
The poem below was written by talented Bat World member, Ted Clines:
By Ted Glines
Authors Note: This poem is a brief requiem for Bentley, a salute to the caregiving volunteers at Bat World, and it attempts to share a bit of information about his kind. My thanks to Julia Truelove (Oregon) who suggested the effort, for I learned much.
Bentley was a scary bat
as some would say – and that is that
ignorance builds mighty towers
and bats are full of evil powers
“blind as a bat” – so say those folks
whose “knowledge” base is full of jokes
but may we take a moment here
to make the air a bit more clear.
Sub-Saharan flying fox
lives in trees or caves in rocks
known to live for twenty years
in spite of traps and guns and spears
eyes far better than yours or mine
the smallest things they can define
the juice from fruit is what they gulp
lapping juice – discarding pulp
nocturnal hunters nightly roam
and dawn will find them safe at home
cacophony of gossip squeaking
thousands there all pressed together
sheltered safe from greed or weather
if we could know the things they’re saying
of loves and fears – maybe praying
we might feel a kinship growing
with perhaps compassion showing.
Never meant for zoos nor cages
flying free through all the ages
thirty inches span of wings
strong to fly above all things
soaring straight and oh so high
miles of forest passing by
sixteen miles of hunting range
where all is known – nothing strange
straw-colored hair on neck and spine
brown chest and belly fur so fine.
In 1981 – born in a zoo
rejected by his mother too
Bentley never knew the wild
enslaved unhappy misplaced child
imprisoned where no freedom plays
and that’s where Bentley spent his days
no appeal – no bargain gains
encaged for life “where freedom reigns”
but prisoned beasties cause abuse
and injured creatures have no u$e
zoos would rather put to sleep
those creatures they could cure and keep
it’s like big bu$ine$$ everywhere
the profit motive shows no care.
Thanks to gods or thanks to fate
Bentley was rescued – not too late
by Bat World folks of Mineral Springs
Texas folks – where love still sings
and Bentley spent his last four years
being nurtured – no more fears
until the day he passed away
to fly with angels – laughing play
where there’s always fruit enough
no bully beasts or zoos and stuff
no need to hide in fear or roam
at last dear Bentley flew on home.
We are saddened to announce the loss of Putter, a long-term resident of Bat World Sanctuary. In March of 2003 Putter became ill and refused to eat either of her twice daily hand-fed meals. The following morning she passed away. A necropsy revealed an undersized heart. It appeared that after seven years, her tiny heart just gave out.
Putter was found at Bat World’s wild sanctuary building in Texas when she was about three days old. She was orphaned, barely an inch long, and deformed. Both legs were very stiff at the knees, virtually frozen in a “legs-crossed” sitting position (photo left). With such a severe handicap, she was not releasable.
A comfortable brace was used to gently stretch the frozen ligaments in her legs. The device was made using a tiny section of rubber catheter. Soft foam hobbles made from a facial sponge held her feet in place (photo right). Putter seemed to understand and accept the brace right away. With her legs stretched out behind her, she was able to hang up-side down for the first time in her life.
Hours and hours of daily therapy eventually turned into weeks and weeks. The therapy involved minuscule hot packs, made from cotton swabs, for each stiff knee, combined with slow, gentle leg stretches. Progress was made millimeter by millimeter, until finally, Putter was able to stretch her weak legs out and “putter” around all by herself. Putter became known as the “little bat that could.” She was able to carry on a normal captive lifestyle and lived with a non-releasable colony of over 50 of her kind.
Putter was part of our Adopt-a-Bat program. Many of our caring members were touched by Putter’s story and helped Bat World by contributing to her support. To all those who were so generous, thank you; Putter lived for seven happy years with your help.
On March the 2nd, 2001, we lost a friend who was admired and cherished by thousands of people.
Bucko was in the prime of his life, healthy and robust, so his death came as a complete shock to all of us. He died from a pulmonary embolism, a blood clot which can form from something as minor as a bruise. The clot travels through the bloodstream and eventually enters the lungs, causing death. There are no symptoms until it is too late.
Early one morning Bucko was found to have labored breathing and he appeared to be in pain. He was rushed to our veterinarian where he was examined and received pain medication. Fortunately, the medication put him to sleep. He passed away a few hours later without ever waking.
Bucko was a charming bat who educated thousands of adults and children during his all too brief seven years with us. It was a true joy to watch his ever amazing antics. No one that personally met Bucko could ever mention him again without smiling. We hope photos on this page will convey how truly special he was.
Bucko was the first straw-colored fruit bat to grace us with his presence. In his honor, all straw-colored fruit bats that have found their way to us since his passing have been given a name that starts with the letter “B”.