Many zoos provide enrichment and quality of life for the bats in their care and and take the time to neuter males bats to prevent excess reproduction. However, most do not, and bats suffer the consequences. Because of the lack of population control in bats housed in zoos across the US, the animals suffer from over crowding, abandoned babies, lack of enough food and flight space and even early death. In an effort to control excess populations, some zoos resort to culling, supplying bats to research (where they are ultimately euthanized) and even supplying unscrupulous pet trade dealers with bats that bred in cramped cages. Babies are ripped away from their mothers and then sold at hundreds to thousands of dollars to the unsuspecting public, because these bats typically die within their first year when kept as pets.
Below is actual text received from and about accredited and non-accredited zoos across the US over the past few years:
Quotes from individuals regarding the disposal of bats by AZA accredited zoos:
1) “When I told the director that baby vampire bats were being washed down the drain when the exhibit was hosed out, he said “consider it a means of population control.'””
2) “I talked with Ryan, the pet store owner I know, and he found out the Egyptians are from the Memphis Zoo. He has a friend in Austin that bought several. They are all males.”
3) “These are Leaf-nose Fruit Bats from S. America. I have already got the lecture about what zoos are doing with surplus bats. I am not a zoo, and do not agree with most of the things they do. … I am hoping to get some information on this before more babies fail to survive. The ones I have dealt with so far have a good to great appetite, but don’t survive 24 hours.”
4) “It is outrageous the way smaller bats are mis-managed, and a welfare issue. The surpluses available are ridiculous eg 200.200 from Central Park Zoo! …..most zoos are simply not able (or willing) to separate the sexes, and even when they do they often sex the animals incorrectly and one male gets a field day!”
5) “I just received a call from the Cincinnati Museum regarding a man in Cincinnati who owns a pet store. Apparently he is gearing up to accept “leaf-nose fruit bats” from a zoo in NC. This zoo is doling them out much like the other zoo … in FL.”
6) “Apparently it has become routine for zoos to indiscriminately supply the pet trade with their surplus fruit bats. This practice seems highly irresponsible and cruel. What can be done to stop this? Why is population control never considered?”
7) “A friend of mine has recently been given about 200 Leaf-nose Fruit Bats that were left over from a zoo that closed. Many of them have babies or have given birth since he acquired them. Many others appear to be pregnant. Some of the babies have been dropping off and he has not been successful in keeping the alive. He gave two to me…”
8) “I am extremely concerned that bats will end up in the pet trade. … I do not know if this is still happening and if you hear of any please let me know.The Memphis information is disturbing and I will follow up with them. At the very least they should be neutering bats before they send them out…”
9) “I have a group of about 80 Jamaican fruits bats that we have used in testing flight skills. …the Denver Zoo wanted to give me all 400 they have on site if they could have as their situation is out of control.”
Direct quotes made by zookeepers from both accredited and non-accredited zoos regarding bats in their care:
1) “I work with a colony of Seba’s short-tailed bats (Carollia perspicillata) in captivity and lately we have been noticing a dramatic increase in the number of juvenile deaths. We have been unable to determine the reason why and it is driving us crazy! Necropsies have not been helpful the bats are so small that by the time we manage to get them to the necropsy room they are usually autolyzed.”
2) ” … we experienced overcrowding with our Rousettus colony in the past before we made them a single-sex colony and cut down on the number of specimens significantly their reactions were rejecting their babies and engaging in feeding frenzy behavior where they would devour absolutely everything offered to them in record time.”
3) “The injured bats crawl around on the floor sometimes, and are able to fly for very short stints (maybe a couple of seconds, tops); they always return to their little cave, and so really are almost never seen by the public anyway.”
4) “When we had more Jamaicans, we used to get questions from the public about them, because they would crawl on the floor sometimes, but since we now have only 9 left, among all the other bats in the flight, they are hardly even noticed.”
5) “I find it really funny that you have someone looking for Egyptian fruit bats now, because a year ago when we were trying to change over to a single-sex colony, we had so much trouble finding places for them – no one wanted Egyptian fruit bats!”
6) “…about 10 Jamaican fruit bats (all-male and all ancient, the colony has been there since our building opened in 1995, but we are now trying to phase them out),…”
Bats are not disposable commodities, they are thinking, intelligent beings who develop strong -and even lifelong- bonds with family members. Bats are capable of living 25 years or more when provided with a proper environment and care. Bats in the pet trade generally die within the first years due to loneliness, depression and lack of proper care.
Please sign the petition urging the Association of Zoos and Aquariums to immediately stop pushing bats into research and the cruel exotic pet trade, and to neuter all surplus male bats as well as provide an enriched lifetime of care for every bat in their possession.