Don’t skip the bats!

At Disney’s Animal Kingdom, you can skip the bat display. There is a sign that directs you past the enclosure of Malayan flying foxes (Pteropus vampyrus) should you, for some incomprehensible reason, wish to not see them. These large fruit bats are impressive and utterly lovely; I could not wait to catch a glimpse.

The woman in front of me split from her husband and toddler and pushed a stroller past the exhibit with an audible intention of avoiding the bats. She was afraid.

I’m at a loss.

She was afraid of this:


Let’s turn them 180 degrees:


bat cute bat

ARE YOU KIDDING ME?! Those critters are adorable.

While I’m in the display, I cringe to hear parents point them out to their offspring and refer to them “vampires” or “Dracula”.  Thanks, pop culture! We learn nonsense via fiction and go through life not bothering to correct it.

These bats are undoubtedly huge with a great black wing span yet they eat fruit, not blood. They don’t attack people. They are remarkably adapted to their niche in the world and deserve a place in it without ignorance that fuels cruelty and extermination.

Having a snooze.
Having a snooze.

The most important purpose of zoos and animal parks is to bring people up close to learn about animals they don’t regularly see or that are killed for the wrong reasons. Education is key to protecting animals that most humans don’t realize need to be respected and allowed a space to exist.

I was really irked that this woman would bring her family to an animal park and choose to remain ignorant, to indulge a misguided fear. I do understand that not everyone feels comfortable to be up close to spiders, insects, snakes or rats. Even one of the guides at the park says he rushes past the hissing cockroach display because he doesn’t like them. I’m not a fan of roaches and hate scorpions but I make myself examine them because they are darned interesting.

On the “Bug’s Life” attraction, people are sprayed with bug spray, giant spiders descend from the ceiling, and you feel surprise movement under the seats. It’s GREAT. It’s more of a freak out than these lovely real animals who are just going about their lives as nature made them. I give credit to Disney corporation for their support of conservation efforts and for making an great effort to reach kids and their families with a kingdom that includes animals, not just humans. Yes, I get a bit hung-up about their promotion of fiction over facts, too, but I get they are thinking about appealing to their young audience.

I am saddened by those who are unwilling to at least attempt to learn about animals so different from us, to cling so tightly to wrongheaded ideas that they never are open to the bigger view. To be so isolated to think that the world is only for PEOPLE means you miss out on the tremendous variety, beauty and creativity of life on earth.

To spite that closed-minded woman, and because I adore bats of all kinds, I bought a tee today in their fundraiser to support bat rescue. Why don’t you, too. These little guys and girl will be grateful.

Orphaned baby flying foxes in a bat sanctuary.
Orphaned baby flying foxes in a bat sanctuary.

About idoubtit

Fluent in science, animals, paranormal culture. Expert in weird news.

0 thoughts on “Don’t skip the bats!

  1. Thank you for planting a seed that I hope will grow. I can overhear an ignorant comment a mile away and find subliminal ways to do a little ‘Bat education’ dance. More often then not, when I correlate foods or luxuries to bats existences, most have the ‘light go on’. I finish off with ‘ you can think they are creepy and do not have to like them, but please appreciate what they do to benefit us. I can say I know I’d be THE ONE person pushing past everything to SEE the bats and spend hours there just gazing at a species I don’t get chance to see except in pictures.

  2. I’ve never wanted to go to Disney World (too hot, too many people) but, you’ve given me a reason to want to go, hell a reason to want to dream to move there and get a job working with the batties!!!

  3. Absolutely don’t skip these cuties, I saw some way back in ’68 at the National Zoo in DC and they’re almost as cute as kittens (I have eleven cats and to say different could cost me my life).

  4. Here in a Melbourne (Australia) suburb we have lots of these fruit bats, aka flying foxes, in our garden every night. As you say, they are charming and most welcome. However, I wish they would come back in the morning and clean up the black and white droppings they have left on our veranda.

    1. Bats are amazing, intelligent and beautiful creatures. The more education we can share about them the better. It saddens me when I speak of my love of bats and others react with distaste and myths, but I always take the opportunity to share the positive information I know about them.
      James Warren, I empathize with you about your bat dropping problem, I really do, but it makes me think about the many animals who would prefer we didn’t leave our human “droppings” of multiple varieties in their habitats.

  5. i recall an item from Quirks And Quarks (CBC Radio show,interviews with professional scientific researchers) on a species Central American fruit bat .The bats could ingest large amounts of alcohol with no detectable effect on their flying or their navigating. A useful talent for foragers of fruit.

  6. I love bats from the smallest bumblebee bat to the largest flying foxes! Thank you for your article and for your reference to Bat World Sanctuary where rescued bats and retirees are cared for with tenderness.

  7. Reblogged this on Life, Don't Talk To Me About Life and commented:
    A lovely piece here about bats. I too love bats and have been on bat walks to glimpse the little sweeties.

    Sharon points out that it is ignorance that makes people fear these sweet little creatures, which is true, I was told many years ago that we only fear what we don’t understand.

    So lets hear it for the bats.

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