Zoo News is Good News: Zookeepers, Vets Rally To Save Life Of Rare Baby Fruit Bat

By Oregon Zoo StaffBaby Bat

A tiny, critically endangered fruit bat that almost didn’t live past its first day is now a month old and well on the road to recovery at the Oregon Zoo.

Keepers were thrilled when Sara, one of several Rodrigues flying foxes at the zoo’s “bat cave,” gave birth to a new pup March 10. “Rods,” as they’re often called in zoological circles, were once considered the most imperiled bat species on the planet, and each birth is considered an important step toward ensuring their long-term survival.

Excitement quickly turned to concern the next day though, when keepers found the tiny bat on the floor of the habitat, apparently rejected by her mom. The pup — which weighed less than 2 ounces — felt cold to the touch but otherwise seemed OK. Keepers scooped her up and rushed her to the zoo’s veterinary medical center, where she was warmed, given fluids and determined to be in good health.

After several attempts to reunite the pup with her mother were met with rejection, the baby was returned to the vet hospital, where animal-care staff worked in shifts to administer formula feedings. She’s out of ICU now, but she’ll remain behind the scenes until fall during a long hand-rearing process that currently involves nine bottle feedings a day.

To see a video of zoo caregivers feeding the baby bat, go to bit.ly/BabyRod.

Laura Weiner, senior keeper for the zoo’s Africa section, says the tiny survivor is not only “adorable,” but a testament to one of the most inspiring conservation stories in history: living proof of the impact people can have — both positive and negative — on wildlife and species conservation.

“Every birth is significant for these bats,” Weiner said. “Forty years ago, the Rodrigues flying fox was perilously close to extinction. The fact that they are here today shows what a difference people can make in helping wildlife.”

For more information, visit the Oregon Zoo: www.oregonzoo.org/Co