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Contact the AZA and USDA now!

Dear APHIS and AZA Official,

Despite Bat TAG recommendations regarding bats as pets set forth in 2015, there continues to be an ongoing and active trade in fruit bats across the U.S. Many of these bats have entered the pet trade through zoological institutions. Regulations to restrict zoos from selling or giving fruit bats to individuals and pet trade dealers is the most effective means of curbing fruit bats entering the pet trade. In order for this cruel practice to stop, both the APHIS and the AZA must enact and enforce regulations to control breeding by neutering male fruit bats, and they must eliminate the sale, trade or other disposition of zoo bats to individuals, roadside zoos, mini-zoos or animal dealers known to place bats with individuals.

Bats kept as pets are often maintained in inadequate housing and without consideration for their social and psychological needs. Bat World Sanctuary (BWS) has rescued hundreds of these bats from the pet trade over the last 25 years. Below are exact quotes from emails that we have received from the staff of accredited and non-accredited zoos, as well as pet trade dealers:

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.”

10) “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.”

11) ” … 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.”

12) “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.”

13) “I worked at a large AZA accredited facility here in Canada that did this. It was so upsetting seeing a colony split and sold to place that takes them to kids birthday parties. Some of those bats were 30 years old.”

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 year due to loneliness, depression and lack of proper care. We strongly encourage the APHIS and the AZA to enact and enforce regulations to control breeding by neutering male fruit bats, and they absolutely must eliminate the sale, trade or other disposition of zoo bats to individuals, roadside zoos, mini-zoos or animal dealers known to place bats with individuals.

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