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The Michigan 90

One of the pitiful short-tailed fruit bats used as a fundraising tool by OBC.

It started with the rescue of 90 fruit bats from the Organization for Bat Conservation (OBC) after it suddenly closed due to allegations of  improprieties and a complete loss of funding.

For two decades we had watched the sad conditions of the bats being “used” in countless programs across the U.S., so we jumped at the chance to offer these bats lifetime sanctuary.

Taking on 90 additional mouths to feed was a daunting task but thanks to you—our wonderful supporters who helped us build a new, larger sanctuary—we have the room to accommodate these poor, unwanted souls. When the bats arrived we were both joyous and saddened at the same time. We were joyous to give these bats a new lease on life with all the enrichment they deserve, but sad to see how emotionally and physically neglected some of them appeared to be, and that many of the smaller bats were thin and balding.  Three of the elderly bats had nails that were so long they had to be physically cut out of the mesh crate in which they arrived.

Bats are exceptionally clean by nature but in order to maintain themselves they must be able to ambulate. Three bats were so accustomed to not being able to move about once they were placed in a certain location, they just hung in the exact same spot for hours on end. On the alleged instruction of the former director, their claws were purposely allowed to grow so they curled 270 degrees (3/4 of a circle) making it so they could barely move around.  Because of the severe, curled length of their toenails, the bats could not unlatch their toes from the cage ceiling to turn right-side up to relieve themselves, so they unwillingly soiled their bodies when they eliminated. It took several weeks of rehabilitating the bats (their behavior as well as their nails to help them understand that they are able to move freely on their own within our expansive enclosure, and that they can now invert when eliminating.

Along with other allegations of abuse and neglect, we later learned from a former staff member that one of the bats (called Coco) was allegedly kept in a broom closet for two years before finally being transferred to a different cage. The former staff member reported that she would leave the door of the closet open while she was there so the bat could receive fresh air.

We later learned that in 2012, OBC determined that Coco was going blind so she and her roost mate were moved to a small cage and kept in the aforementioned broom closet. Her roost mate died at some point, so Coco remained confined to the small cage alone because, under the instructions of the former OBC director, it was believed that she would ‘freak out” around other bats.

Coco is an elderly, critically endangered Rodrigues fruit bat. Along with her new life, we felt she deserved a new name so she is now called Chessie. She has literally thrived at Bat World Sanctuary.  Chessie thoroughly enjoys the endless enrichment provided on a daily basis, and appears to love the company of the bats that she nuzzles and snuggles with while sleeping.

Chessie at Bat World Sanctuary, exploring her new surroundings and making dozens of new friends.

Several of the 50 short-tailed fruit bats were pregnant on arrival. Two of the mothers abandoned their pups due to the stress of the transfer so their babies were hand-raised for eight weeks, then introduced to fruit when they were old enough to eat solid food. Pictured on the left is baby Bella, enthusiastically going for a meal of banana in goat’s milk.

When these tiny babies were able to fly, they rejoined their mothers and the rest of their colony in our indoor-outdoor flight enclosure.

The Michigan 90 have blossomed since arriving and they all seem incredibly happy. Many of these bat have a lifespan of 25 years or more. Your donations help us to accomplish all that we do for these bats and more. On behalf of these beautiful souls who will now have lifetime peace and happiness, thank you for sponsoring the Michigan 90.

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