The zoo maintains that their Bat Cave is a great opportunity to discover what these animals get up to when we’re usually tucked up in our beds. As we make our way through the forest and head towards the Bat Cave, “You may be able to feel the air as they whoosh past you,” they say. “But there’s no need to worry about them flying into you, bats are excellent navigators,” they add. That is all well and good but a bat touched my head and nothing the zoo says about “excellent navigators” is going to convince me otherwise. Maybe this bat was under the influence of fermented fruit – I have no idea – but he definitely more or less crashed into my head!
He could even have been a vampire bat for all I know.
Then to add insult to injury I hear you can part with £59 to go on a Fruit Bat Encounter and feed the little miscreants. For that price you get admission to the zoo, complimentary drink and the chance to feed their bats while accompanied by bat keepers who can answer your questions. The whole experience lasts for approximately 30 minutes – not if I am taking part it won’t!
I am reminded of that day by a story I have just read about thousands of bats who have taken over a town leaving residents afraid to leave their homes or take their children to school. The ‘bat-tornado’ was so intense that the local hospital’s air ambulance was grounded as they made it impossible to fly. The flying animals have taken over the town of Ingham in North Queensland, Australia, but they are a protected species so very little can be done.
Mayor of Hinchinbrook Council Raymond Jayo told the local news show A Current Affair: “It just seems to me that every bat in Australia is now in Ingham. There’s four different species and because they all have young at different times, there’s hardly a window of opportunity when we can interact with these bats to try and move them on.”
Outspoken local politician Bob Katter told the program, if it was up to him, he’d “be down here with a shotgun”. He added: “There comes a point where I think not breaking the law really becomes ‘dogging it,’ as we say in North Queensland and I think that point has probably been reached.”
President of the Ingham’s Chamber of Commerce, Rachael Coco, added: “If this was happening at Parliament House, somebody would have come up with a solution by now.”
She added that tourism in the area has taken a dramatic hit since the bats arrived. Trees around one primary school are full of the upside down fruit bats, with many parents refusing to send their children to school until they are gone.
Okay, so as much as I am not a fan of bats – although I would never harm any creature – let me make an observation for you, Australia. If you were not the world’s fourth largest coal producer then perhaps your country wouldn’t be on fire and destroying the bat’s habitat. Perhaps then they wouldn’t need to take to the skies to find new homes.
However, don’t send you little furry friends to Chester!