March 1991 – May 2011

Stella, after arriving to Bat World Sanctuary. Click to enlarge.


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

Stella in her hammock and next to a food bowl.

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.

Sweet Stella in the flight enclosure. Click to enlarge.

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.

Happy Stella by her favorite toy. Click to enlarge.

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.

5 thoughts on “Stella”

  1. My name is Tara. I am 42 years old. When I was about 16 I walked in to my bedroom; which as a “rocker kid” I kept fairly dark whith black curtains that I loved and was very particular about; I noticed one of the curtains wasn’t hanging “just right”. When I walked over to correct it, a small bat began to fly around my room. I wasn’t frightened at all, I was in LOVE!!! I very carefully caught her (him?) in a soft sheet. I showed my mother and she was in love too! It was evening and getting dark , so we took her out onto the patio and slowly unwrapped the sheet. I looked at her and cooed and talked to her. I took one finger and VERY gently stroked her fur. She looked up at me then flew away. Since that day I have always wanted a bat as a pet. I never aquired one because I knew I didn’t know enough about them. Also, I am a firm believer that wild animals belong in the wild (unless of course they are in a rescue or sanctuary). I still love bats, but these stories made me cry… the poor little babies! I see bats for sale all the time all over the internet… I feel so sorry for them. In addition, because the further education on this site, I will NEVER own a bat, I will volunteer at a rescue or sanctuary if I can find one in my area!

    1. I’m touched by your story. I want to save bats too. They’re the most beautiful creatures I’ve ever seen!

  2. I still think of sweet Stella. Remember back in 2002 when I started to volunteer at the Mercer County Wildlife Center. Was so amazed at all the neat mammals & birds I was seeing and working with. More amazed when I was told to go into the large cage in the front to put water and cut fruit into the Egyptian Fruit bat cage, which contained mom & daughter fruit bat. How cool to look up at them roosting upside down cuddled with each other. The only harm they did was shower me with urine. A couple years later it was sad to find out that mom was killed by a rat which had gotten into the center. She was probably protecting her daughter. Well we did the best to try to keep the daughter safe and healthy, but we were not well equipped. Luckily my friend Heidi was able to find Amanda Lollar and needed to travel to Houston soon. There were arrangements made the bat was going to BWS. My friend Heidi told me stories about her flight with the bat to Texas. Some people were fascinated, some very horrified. At least the flight attendant in first class sneaked her some grapes. Heidi me with somebody at the airport who transported the poor bat to BWS. When she got there they did not think she would survive. She was dehydrated, arthritis and not in good shape from the flight. But the girl pulled through and I love how they gave her the name Stella from Stella Luna. I still used to love after my Tuesday evening shifts at the center were over and I would always have a piece of honeydew for Stella. I know they are wild animals, but I really feel like she knew who I was and cared deeply for her. I was saddened to see her leave the wildlife center, but very happy at the same time to see her in a better environment to be better taken care of.

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