Chessie is a Rodrigues fruit bat, a critically endangered species on a small island in the Indian Ocean known as Rodrigues island. She belongs to the family Pteropodidae, or “flying foxes” as they are commonly known.
Chessie was born in a zoo in 1997. Over time she wound up at a facility in Michigan where she was on display for the public. Rather than living on a beautiful island where she belonged, she lived in a wire cage with little to no enrichment to occupy her intelligent mind.
Eventually the facility obtained another Rodrigues fruit bat so Chessie finally had company. Sadly, about that same time Chessie began to lose her sight. To make matters worse, the facility had obtained many other animals and ran out of space, so Chessie and her roostmate were moved into a small crate and kept in a broom closet. Within a few months Chessie’s roostmate passed away, leaving Chessie by herself. There she languished for the next two years, all alone with limited vision, and only feeling fresh air when a volunteer would leave her closet door open.
Fortunately for Chessie and 250 other animals, the facility closed in 2018. We immediately reached out to rescue as many bats as possible. Thankfully, 90 of the bats, including Chessie, came to Bat World Sanctuary where they now have the life they so richly deserve.
When Chessie arrived we immediately noticed that her toenails were horrifically overgrown. In fact, they were so long that she had to be cut out of her transport carrier. Chessie was accustomed to not being able to move about because she could not unlatch her nails from the ceiling mesh, so she just hung in the exact same spot for hours on end. We had to help her understand that she could move freely on her own by gently helping her move their feet and guiding her across the expansive flight enclosure ceiling. Because of her limited vision, we always used soft, encouraging tones with Chessie so she is never alarmed at being helped.
Chessie seemed thrilled to once-again be around her own kind. Within weeks she gained much needed weight, likely from enjoying the fresh fruit and vegetables provided round the clock. We learned that her favorite food is romaine lettuce, as she was always first in line to reach the “salad bar” when it arrives (pictured).
Chessie now has two flying fox friends, Starlie and Statler. All three elderly bats are never far away from each other and are often found cuddling together to sleep. Chessie is finally living the happy life she has always deserved. She knows she is safe now, and she will never be alone again.