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Van Gogh

In the year 2000, Van Gogh, a Mexican free-tail bat, was experiencing independence in his first summer of life. From what we can deduce, he became caught in a pre-dawn thunderstorm while out foraging for insects and was unable to make it back to his roost. Instead, he had apparently taken refuge under the edge of a sign attached to the side of a convenience store. Both the hard rain and the rising sun made it impossible for Van Gogh to safely fly back to his home roost.

Sometime during the mid-morning hours, three teenage boys noticed the little bat clinging to the brick wall and crouched tightly against the sign. Fear kept Van Gogh in place, making him an easy target for their heinous crime. Without forethought or concern for this delicate, little creature that had spent all night eating insects that destroy crops and carry deadly disease, they took a lighter from their pocket and reached as high as they could to come into contact with Van Gogh. They held the flame close enough to burn his fur and sear his ear and neck. Luckily, the shopkeeper saw them from the corner of his eye. Not immediately knowing what the boys were doing, only that they were doing something to the store sign, he rushed outside to confront them. Upon seeing the shopkeeper the boys fled, dropping the lighter in the process.  As the shopkeeper approached the sign he heard small painful cries coming  from  Van Gogh,  who  was still weakly clinging  to  the bricks. The shopkeeper’s child had participated in a field trip to Bat World last year, so he was aware of our existence and immediately phoned us.

Thankfully, Van Gogh’s injuries weren’t life threatening. However, the fur on his head and neck was singed and the skin was badly burned. The membrane on one wing had blistered and one of his fragile ears had disintegrated under the flame.  Hence, he was affectionately given the name of Van Gogh.

We admit several burn cases annually; some from power lines, some from chimneys and some from acts of cruelty, such as Van Gogh’s. Sadly, most of these bats are injured beyond repair and must be humanely euthanized.  Van Gogh was very lucky. His desire to stay alive, his sweet disposition and the fact that he was only a few weeks old helped him adjust and heal quickly. However, his missing ear prevents him from echolocating properly and foraging for insects in the wild, so he is not releasable. Van Gogh appears extremely happy in captivity. He has grown a bit old and crotchety over the years, but is still lives a pampered life in protective surroundings, with a non-releasable captive colony of his own kind.

Van Gogh was retired from the Adopt-a-bat program in 2012 and passed away from liver failure on February 16, 2017. He endured so much in his little life and although we miss him immensely, we are greatful that we were able to give him a long and happy life.

Van Gogh can be seen in his younger days on this video at 8:03:00

The following poem was written for Van Gogh by Bat World supporter Michelle:

Beautiful Bat
I am so sorry for what you went through.
The pain that you endured was not right.
Don’t listen to what they say cause it isn’t true.
You are a beautiful bat in my sight.

They could give me a billion dollars.
Thousands and thousands of gems.
I’d rather be with you for hours and hours.
Then receive any such thing from them.

I look into your sweet little eyes.
I see a beautiful soul.
I hope that you can realize.
That you are so very beautiful.

I see an angel evey time I look at you.
Beautiful precious sweet Van Gogh.
Every word I say is absolutely true.
You are more beautiful than you know.

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Holly

Her name makes you think of a festive holiday plant – shiny green leaves and bright red berries – not an empty aquarium, garbage bags and disdain for an animal in need. She arrived on Christmas Eve of 2006, a pipistrelle bat—the smallest species in N. America, less than one inch in length and weighing no more than a dime. She was in a 10 gallon aquarium enclosed in two black plastic garbage bags that were sealed with duck tape. She lay there, wet and shivering, mud oozing from her delicate wing membranes as she gasped for air.

When we asked the folks who brought her why they put her in such a large container and sealed it so tightly, they looked replied, “Well it’s a bat”. After cutting away the duct tape to remove Holly, we motioned to the aquarium and assured them they only had to wash it and it would be reusable. The reply was, “No, no, we do not want anything back that the bat touched.” Misconceptions abound, but at least they saved her from her watery grave. Their 9 year old son, who actually discovered Holly, had learned from his teacher that if you find a bat, you should get it help. As it was Christmas Eve, a child’s pleading with his family could not be ignored. He said that he held the aquarium in his lap during the car ride over and kept asking God to help save the little bat. He said, “I also told my Mom to drive faster because I knew you would be able to help.”

The worst was realized within 24 hours; Holly had double pneumonia and her life lay in the balance. Bits of her fur were falling out, and it seemed impossible to get nutrition into her. Because of her congestion she could not swallow and breathe through her mouth at the same time. Additionally she had two broken bones – one in her tail and on one of her fingers. Surely the kindest of all things would be to humanely euthanize this sweet, little creature and end her misery, but she was trying so hard to breathe, to hang on and survive. It is in the eyes that we as rehabilitators always get our answer. Her tiny eyes made contact with ours, not looking away, while she gasped is a valiant effort to breathe. We had no choice but to give everything we had to fight right along with her.

It took several months, but Holly completely recovered. Unfortunately, her broken bones left her too severely compromised to be released. Holly has adapted well to a captive care life. She established territory in the natural habitat enclosure she shares with Mexican free-tails, big browns, and evening bats. Pipistrelles, unlike other species of bats, roost both in trees and crevices in the wild.

Holly was with us until January 28th of this year, residing at our rescue center Bat World Lone Star. She showed no signs of being ill beforehand and appeared to have passed away in her sleep from old age. We estimate that she was approximately 12 to 14 years old. Holly was such a little trooper and survived tremendous odds, and she will be forever missed.

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Mr. Impley

Mr Impley-inmemoryMr. Impley, a Jamaican fruit bat (Artibeus jamaicensis)  was retired to Bat World with over a dozen more of his kind in 1994. The bats were involved in DNA research. The project involved taking notches from the ears as well as toe samples from the bats.

Despite this, Impley remained trusting of humans and looked forward to his daily honeydew treats at Bat World Sanctuary. During the last year of his life Impley developed arthritis which left him unable to groom so he was gently brushed every morning by his caregivers. Mr. Impley passed away on June 27, 2016, leaving an empty spot in the hearts of everyone at Bat World Sanctuary.
 
 
Mr. Impley can be seen in his younger days in this video at 10:59:00.

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Andy

It is with a heavy heart that we bring you the news that Andy, a Brazilian free-tailed bat (Tadarida brasiliensis), passed away on June 3, 2016, two months after his 15th birthday.

Andy was born at Bat World Sanctuary on April 12, 2001. Free-tailed bats are estimated to live 15 years in the wild, however,  Andy’s mother, Andrea, passed away in 2011 at the age of 19. Andy was an accidental birth and part of a behavioral study conducted on the mating behavior of T. brasiliensis, published in the Southwestern Naturalist.

Andy never learned to feed himself in captivity so he was hand fed twice daily every single day. During his life span with us he received 11,052 hand fed meals. Goodbye sweet Andy, you are sorely missed, especially twice a day at feeding time.

This video created in celebration of Andy’s 15th Birthday.

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Daffodil

March 2006 – April 11, 2016

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. ♥

Daffy-crevice bat

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Isis

1995 – Nov. 5, 2015

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.

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Poppy

April 12, 2001 – Oct. 27, 2015

Poppy-in memoryIt 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.

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Kizmet

February 2000 – May 16, 2015

Kizmet was a sheltie mix that we rescued from the Mineral Wells Animal Shelter in the year 2000. Unfortunately, she was plagued with health issues from the start due to a suppressed immune system, and within months of being rescued she developed both hip and knee dysplasia which required corrective surgery.  Kizmet never missed a beat and overcame all of her handicaps, learning to run and play by hopping with her back legs while running with her front legs. She was an inspiration to every intern and volunteer who came to Bat World Sanctuary.

Kizmet and one year and thirteen years of age
Kizmet, our office shredder at one year old (left) and and thirteen years of age (right)

As Kizmet grew older she retired herself from the position of “dumpster truck alerter” and instead opted for the job of “office shredder”, a position she filled with great enthusiasm. She passed away on May 16, 2015 at 15 years of age. She was a beautiful dog with a tremendous personality and she left a hole in our hearts with her passing.

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Fabio

April 1994 – March 26, 2015

Fabio, a Jamaican fruit bat, was retired to Bat World Sanctuary in 1994 from a DNA research project involving a dozen of his kind. The project involved taking notices from the ears as well as toe samples from the bats. Understandably, Fabio was very distrusting of humans when he arrived. Outside of routine health checks,. we gave him the space and privacy he needed. In his older years he grew arthritic and needed help grooming his fur, and we gained his trust in the process. During the last three years of his life Fabio was groomed every morning. He grew to love the process as much as we did. Fabio passed away on March 26, 2015 at the age of 22. Rest in peace, sweet Fabio; we still miss you dearly.

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Ethereal

August 2009 – July 4, 2013

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.

Ethereal, poking her head out of a bat hut looking for a meal worm treat (which she always received).

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.

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