Bat Zone

Bat Conservancy offers year end sponsorships

December 30, 2010 // 0 Comments

Rob Mies, director and co-founder of the Organization for Bat Conservation (OBC) in Michigan, said that it’s been a busy year, filled with exciting successes and some challenges. “Our family of rescued animals at the Bat Zone has grown significantly in 2010,” Mies reported. “A colony of 25 vampire bats arrived in the spring from Chicago Zoological Society’s Brookfield Zoo. The zoo needed to reduce the size of their colony due to overcrowding and behavioral issues. The vampire bats have settled in well at the Bat Zone at Cranbrook Institute of Science.” Colony vampire bats are not easy to care for in captivity, and Mies said the organization is lucky to have found two great family-owned sources for the blood they eat: organic and kosher cow blood! Other new additions to the OBC include Sam, a barred owl transferred from the Southeastern Raptor Center at Auburn University in Alabama. Sam was only a nestling when she suffered a broken wing after a dog attack, leaving her flightless. She will be part of the education program, teaching kids about the wonders of night creatures. Angus, a 15-year-old hand-raised endangered Rodrigues fruit bat, came to live at the Bat Zone this fall. After years of healthy living at the zoo, he injured his wings and needed a home that provides special care. There are only about 5,000 Rodrigues fruit bats in the wild. They are found on one island in the Indian Ocean, Rodrigues Island. Mies asks people to help to support conservation on the island and care for our captive Rodrigues fruit bats. These bats are critical for spreading seeds in the rainforest. Mies said there are five ways to make it a happy new year for bats: • Sponsor a bat. • Donate to the conservancy. • Buy a bat house, bat books, or a bat tote bag. • Book a live bat program. • Become a member or renew your membership. “We have many little mouths to feed,” Mies stated. “Every dollar helps us continue our mission of protecting bats and their habitats. We accomplish this by exciting kids about science through live animal programs, organizing conferences to find ways to stop the spread of ‘white-nose syndrome,’ helping people to put up bat houses […]

Surprise lessons show beauty of bats

December 31, 2009 // 0 Comments

“Is he trying to kill you?” was one question offered by a youngster during a presentation on bats held at Wild Birds Unlimited, 5426 Northland Drive, Grand Rapids. The question came while youngsters and adults were able to admire first-hand a number of bats at a talk on animal adaptation. Bats are more closely related to humans than rodents “bat man” Dale Smart shared with the audience. Smart came from the Organization for Bat Conservation to enlighten visitors on the beauty, usefulness and necessity of bats in our world. Putting minds at ease over the actions of his hand-held bat (it was looking for a mealworm treat, a “bat carrot”), Smart talked about animals’ ability to adapt as quickly as environments can change. Successful adapters can survive and even flourish in a changing world, while those who fail to adapt die. Bats have proven to be resourceful, and Michigan bats are a good example. Today, in the midst of winter, many of our bats have left town to hibernate through winter. Rather than heading south to caves, many have relocated north to man-made mining caves in the upper peninsula. Bats also make good use of old houses in place of standing dead trees, which humans are making less plentiful. Less successful and thus rarer in our state, loons have not found a way to adapt to less shoreline in Michigan lakes. Because of their legs, they cannot walk on land and require undeveloped waterfront to breed. On the other side of the equation, some creatures are too adaptable. The Emerald Ash Borer beetle is an example of a successfully adapted visitor to Michigan. Bats are more than adaptable, Smart shared. Like us, they have hands, wrists and elbows, and fly with a motion that is the equivalent of a human swimmer’s breaststroke. Vampire bats do not eat human blood, he assured, as human blood gives them gas and diarrhea. The anti-clotting quality of vampire bat saliva is actually a benefit for humans, as it is being used to create clot-busting drugs. “The vampire bat is saving human lives,” Smart stated. “If you were a bat,” Smart said to a small audience member, “you would have to eat 200 pieces of pizza a day.” He pointed […]