Bat-man to the rescue

ZSL Whipsnade Zoo’s very own superhero has nursed a pair of native bats back to health after they were found injured while nesting on the zoo grounds.

The two native brown-long-eared bats, a species protected within the UK, were found unable to fly on Zoo grounds by ZSL staff. 

On close inspection of the small bats, a mother and pup, Zookeepers noticed that the mum was weak but still clinging onto her young.

ZSL Whipsnade Zoo keeper Tyrone Capel said, “Bats carry their pups under their wings as they fly and hunt, which can be an exhausting activity, mum was struggling to carry her young during the heatwave this August and lost weight rapidly.” 

Capel - who is also a registered bat carer for the Bat Conservation Trust - then took the pair under his wing, nursing them back to health from his own living room after discovering the pup weighed just 3 grams, the same weight as a penny, he explained, “The pup was around half the weight of mum so they had a lot of weigh to gain to get back to full strength, they were eating nearly 40 mealworms.”

The bats, who’s ears are nearly as long as it’s body, spent four weeks in Capel’s care before being released back onto Zoo ground.

“The pup was released early evening, a few days after mum, she’d mastered flying very quickly after mum left the nest which is very typical in the wild as they become more independent.” Capel continued.

 “Bats are a protected species in the UK and an incredibly important part of the eco system promoting biodiversity, so it’s great we were able to save this pair and release them back into the wild. We have a large number of brown long-eared bats here at Whipsnade so I'm sure we will be seeing this pair again roosting up in the Zoo come this winter”

The UK’s largest Zoo, a 600-acre nature haven, is home to thousands of native species including eight species bats. The pair were both released back onto the international conservation grounds. 

ZSL Whipsnade Zoo reopened to the public on Monday 15 June after an unprecedented three months of closure due to the coronavirus lockdown. The loss of income put the charity zoo under huge financial pressure as they continued to provide the highest level of care for their animals. Now open to limited numbers only, ZSL, the international conservation charity behind the Zoo, is calling on the public to help ensure they stay open by booking a ticket, joining as a member or donating to ZSL

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