Join our zoo community

Batty about Bats

Discussion in 'United States' started by Coelacanth18, 23 Jul 2015.

Tags:
  1. Coelacanth18

    Coelacanth18 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    23 Feb 2015
    Posts:
    814
    Location:
    Los Angeles
    I have always shared an interesting relationship with the order Chiroptera; on the one hand, bats freak me out in close proximity, yet on the other hand I can't get enough of them. I get excited about seeing bats in a zoo the way an average visitor would get about polar bears and koalas. They have huge potential in terms of both education and entertainment: for the first, they remain very misunderstood, and their reputation for being disease-ridden bloodsuckers has recently grown worse with the spread of Ebola; for the second, they are small, active, and social (like monkeys with wings, really). It makes me sad to see them stuffed away in dark corners like dirty orphans the zoo was kind enough to house. One of my favorite zoo exhibits of all time is the African fruit bat enclosure at Oregon, which successfully proved that bats can become a marquee animal simply by showcasing them in a way that complements them, rather than throwing them in whatever large terrarium is available.

    With all of that being said, I felt there should be a thread for direct discussion about these creatures, so that their presence can be felt as more than just passing remarks in unrelated threads. The reason I placed this in the US forums: does anyone know what species the AZA TAG has recommended programs for/what populations exist in North America/have access to the most recent RCP for them? Just generally, if anyone has something to say about bats in North American zoos, please post here. :D
     
  2. zooboy28

    zooboy28 Moderator Staff Member

    Joined:
    1 Aug 2010
    Posts:
    4,573
    Location:
    Melbourne, Aust (ex. NZ)
    Bats are underappreciated, but displays of bats can be very popular. The Oregon Zoo exhibit is a good example of an adequate bat exhibit, as is San Diego Safari Park, but neither are particularly spacious for the bats - not to the point of allowing a decent amount of flying room.

    In warmer climates, e.g. Australasia and Asia, fruit bats are often displayed in outdoor aviaries, and sometimes these are walkthrough (and often include birds and other species). While the bats are usually sleeping, they aren't always, and when active they are quite popular. Elevated walkways that let you get close to the bats are also popular, e.g. Singapore Zoo's Fragile Forest exhibit.

    In colder climates, outdoor exhibits don't work, and indoor nocturnal exhibits are more common. These are almost always too small. The best example I know of is Chester Zoo's Fruit Bat Forest, which is a massive walkthrough exhibit with a lot of bats, a very exciting experience.

    Are there any walkthrough bat exhibits in the US?
     
  3. Coelacanth18

    Coelacanth18 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    23 Feb 2015
    Posts:
    814
    Location:
    Los Angeles
    Brookfield claims that its flying fox exhibit is "walk-through", but I dispute that claim on the grounds that it doesn't really count as one. It's true that the people and bats utilize the same airspace, but the people are confined to a wooden walkway on the edge of the enclosure that is not very close to the bats.

    Picture of Brookfield's enclosure: http://www.zoochat.com/548/australia-rodrigues-fruit-bat-exhibit-157457/

    Lied Jungle and Jungleworld both have free-roaming flying foxes, but they are part of a larger exhibit, so I'm not sure they count either.

    I've heard about the walk-through at Chester, and the zoo is on my bucket list primarily for that reason.
     
  4. DDcorvus

    DDcorvus Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    18 Aug 2008
    Posts:
    1,167
    Location:
    everywhere and nowhere
    Quite some zoos display fruitbats in rainforest halls which gives them proper space. I also like Jersey's fruitbat enclosure where with some luck you can see the Livingstone's fruit bats flying which is very impressive.