Zoo Rescue

In 2009 we rescued 50 short-tailed fruit bats from a zoo that was closing in FL. These bats had been kept in a small flight area and allowed to reproduce uncontrollably, until there were over 400 bats. When the zoo closed, they reached out to other zoos and sanctuaries, and unfortunately exotic pet trade dealers in an attempt to place the bats. We opted to take all the females we could house (50, total) knowing that most of these girls were likely pregnant. We would have liked to take all the bats but sadly we did not have the room. However, accepting only females helped to prevent the number of “breeding stock” entering the exotic pet trade. Unfortunately, these bats are not indigenous to the US so could not be released back to the wild.

The zoo that housed these bats fed them off the floor of their flight enclosure. Water was also provided on the floor. The bats were forced to land on the floor to drink water and eat their fruit, which over time would become contaminated wit their waste due to the bats hanging overhead in the small flight enclosure. We were shocked that, on arrival, the crate we had supplied to the zoo to ship the bats to us contained an excessive amount of fruit on the bottom of the cage. Turbulence could have easily caused one of these bats to fall into the food. Additionally, none of the fruit was cut into small enough pieces to allow the bats to carry it back to the top of their cage to eat as they would do naturally. The only way the bats could eat was to lay on top of the fruit and chew off what they could.

Today the female bats are doing very well. Some had babies, which will live out their lives at Bat World. The boys that were born were neutered to prevent future breeding. The bats now enjoy eating their fresh fruit from bowls that hang from the ceiling of their cage, drinking fresh, clean water, and playing with toys and other forms of enrichment scattered through the 55′ flight enclosure at Bat World Sanctuary. Click photos below to enlarge.

The crate the bats were shipped in, showing the vast amount of food scattered on the floor and covered in waste. All 50 of the tiny bats could have fit on the watermelon rind in the back right corner.









The tiny bats appeared to be smiling when they arrived to Bat World Sanctuary. Photo by Kate Rugroden.









One of the zoo rescued bats playing with a soft vinyl Valentines day toy.










Rescued fruit bats play with new toys (mpg file).


7 thoughts on “Zoo Rescue”

  1. I came across this site by accident a few weeks ago and I am now enthralled with all things bat. I just had a question about the bats playing with toys, it is so cute and why do they like the toys so much? Are they playful like various other animals? What you are doing is amazing. I live in the US so I am going to do some research. Thank you for your time and keep up the good work! <3

  2. I love this site. I love bats, and am so happy they are being rescued. It’s time people got to understand and save them. Bless people like you, and all the hard work you are doing on the behalf of these magnificent animals.

  3. It’s so sad how misunderstood these amazing animals are. I cannot believe that a zoo would be so inept at caring for their charges. It is unfortunate that the exotic pet trade even exists, as it removes animals from wild habitats to foreign countries where they could bring in or be exposed to diseases, not to mention that most die in transit. Thank you for your efforts and for posting photos and stories of your beautiful bats.

  4. I loved this video. I never knew that they played, but it was fun watching them. I loved the music, too. I believe it’s called “Music Box Dancer”. Keep up the good work.

  5. Some of these stories have me crying. How can people be SO cruel to such wonderful free flyers?! It only takes a moment to help them… In 2011, I came home from an errand to see some children poking at something on the ground in the early twilight hours. It wasn’t until heard a familiar squeek that I investigated… They were tormenting a bat! I chased them off and waited a few moments for the poor darling to calm down, then used a long stick to pick it up and lift it to a nearby tree limb. I stayed outside, guarding and watching the poor thing for injuries, hoping so hard that it was okay. After about 20 minutes, it took off into the night with what seemed like a happy thank you squeek, I was SO happy, I didn’t even mind finding that the icecream I had bought had melted. For the next 2 years, I would see that same bat flying about, it always seemed to come catch the insects right outside my window whenever it saw me watching it. I knew it was the same bat, there was a slightly darker patch on it’s head. That little bit of help, with no sacrifice other than the icecream, was so awesome that I smile just thinking about it eve now.

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