Two years ago Zoo Boise received Ruwenzori long-haired fruit bats (Rousettus lanosus) that are on display in the Jack and Esther Simplot Education Center. These are the first bats Zoo Boise has ever displayed! The male bats were born at the Milwaukee County Zoo. They were flown to Boise (on an airplane!). They are brown, pigeon-sized bats from East Africa that eat nectar and fruit.
There are nearly 1,000 types of bats – a quarter of all mammal species. Bats are the only mammals that fly. With fur-covered skin between elongated hand bones, wings keep bats aloft. Why fly? The ability to fly gives bats, birds and insects the opportunity to reach food that is off the ground and the ability to seek shelter away from ground-dwelling predators.
Bats have reputations as evil, disease-infested, creepy critters, but they are really harmless, fascinating, beautiful creatures! Many bats have declined in the wild and there is growing concern for the future of many bats. Bat Conservation International and the Lubee Foundation are two organizations dedicated to the conservation of flying mammals.