Bat conservation at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo
ZSL is very concerned about the drastic decline in numbers of all 16 British bat species in recent years, so has created five new bat hibernacula at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo.
Building the bat hibernacula The old disused lion den was converted into a bat hibernaculum, and provides many niches for bats to hide in over the cold winter months. In addition, the surrounding area has been re-landscaped and now boasts one of the best views in the county.
The concrete from the demolished bear dens was used to build a second bat cave, cunningly cantilevered so that it wouldn’t collapse under the weight of the topsoil above. A third hibernaculum was created from an old brick-lined sump at the bottom of the Tiger Dell, and two more were created from the old Kodiak and Polar bear dens.
It is very satisfying to report that bats moved into their new homes almost immediately. Three species have been recorded using the hibernacula so far – Brown Long-eared, Natterer’s and Daubenton’s. Daubenton’s bat is a new species record for Whipsnade, so there was great excitement when one of these bats was found recently.
The hibernacula will continue to be improved to make them even better for bats. More nooks and crannies will be created for bats to hide in, and some parts will be adapted to make them suitable for summer roosting.