Since 1994, Bat World Sanctuary has led the way in bat rescue and conservation. Located in Weatherford, Texas, this community of staff, volunteers and donors is dedicated to educating the public, promoting the humane treatment and rescue of bats, training animal care professionals, and protecting wild bat colonies. All of these efforts help educate the public about the importance of bats in our ecosystem.
We asked Amanda Lollar, founder of Bat World Sanctuary, to share her thoughts about the work of this amazing organization and these unique and intelligent animals.
What are your responsibilities with Bat World Sanctuary? Because Bat World Sanctuary is the largest rehabilitation/teaching sanctuary in the world that is solely dedicated to bats, and we are the only accredited bat sanctuary, my days are long and involved. My duties entail responsibility for the staff, our programs, policies & procedures, expansion, and execution of our mission. Basically I ensure that all areas are operating at the highest standard possible.
Why did you found Bat World Sanctuary? I realized how little was known about bats after rescuing one from a hot Texas sidewalk in 1988. Like most people at the time, I thought bats were vermin. However, I did not want the tiny animal to suffer so I scooted the bat onto a newspaper with the toe of my shoe and carried it back to our furniture store, then placed it into a box with a small dish of water. The next day I found information at the local library about the benefits of bats, so I took the bat home in hopes of healing her wing and setting her free. Unfortunately, her injuries were permanent, so “Sunshine” stayed on. During her short lifetime in captivity, Sunshine taught me the enchanting language of bats and that, combined with realizing how intelligent, beneficial, vulnerable, and unfairly persecuted bats are, made me realize that I had to make a difference for them.
Why is bat rescue and conservation important to the ecosystem? Bats are a keystone species in the earth’s environment. Insects outnumber us dramatically, and 70% of the world’s bat populations are insectivorous (insect-eating). Without bats, we would not be able to withstand the onslaught of the insect attack on human life or our crops, nor would we be able to withstand the chemicals it would take to control them. In the average lifetime of a single bat, that miraculous creature will consume between 20-45 million harmful night-flying insects and crop pests, depending on the species. Just one single bat = over 20 million harmful insects consumed!
Bats bring us over 450 different commercial products as well as over 80 medications. They either disperse the seeds for the plants from which the item is derived, consume the insects that destroy it or they pollinate it. It is rarely celebrated that bats are responsible for a staggering 98% of the reforestation of the rain forests, the lungs of our planet. Bats bring us items like toothpaste, coffee, twine, chocolate, bananas, mangoes, soap, shampoo, paper, fuel, spices, life-saving medicines, etc.
What is your biggest fundraising challenge? Our biggest challenge is operational support. Food and supplements for the bats is over $36,000 per year alone. If we have a major rescue, like the Kress Building in downtown Ft. Worth that immediately put over 1,200 bats under our care – bats requiring triage, food, medical attention, medical supplies, supplements and rehab – our expenses could double. With real estate in the area being under-valued in comparison to other areas, you see an above average poverty level which leads many to abandon their dogs, cats and horses. Consequently, the conservation of bats falls low on the totem pole of concerns.
What are your hopes for the future of Bat World Sanctuary? The hope is that Bat World Sanctuary will continue to flourish and grow so that no bat will ever needlessly suffer or be destroyed because there is no place for them to go once they are injured, orphaned, aged, or retired from research facilities or zoos. The other fear is that there will be no place for people to continue to train on bats. We have trained over 400 veterinarians, zoologists, biologists, conservation scientists and other animal care professionals from every bat-inhabited continent in the world. Bat World Sanctuary is essential. We work with like minded organizations and individuals globally; places like Samal Montfort in the Philippines, several Australian bat rescue groups, the Israeli Bat Sanctuary and more. Consequently, our primary hope is that younger individuals will pursue a career at Bat World Sanctuary in order to continue our work for decades to come.
How can people help with bat conservation and rescue efforts? Donate and support your local certified bat groups. Once a person becomes knowledgeable about bats, they need to spread the good word and educate others. Direct people to the Bat World Sanctuary website so they may learn and understand more about bats and support conservation efforts for the species. Write their Senators and Congressman demanding they put forth a bill adding bats to the Migratory Species Protection Act so they too, along with birds, will receive protection.
What can you tell someone who is thinking about donating to Bat World Sanctuary? Every penny that is donated to Bat World Sanctuary goes towards the care, feeding, housing and protection of bats. We do not have high paid executives, we operate with a small staff of three people caring for two hundred permanent resident bats as well as the hundreds that we rescue, rehabilitate and release annually. We are the only bat sanctuary that has received the Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries and American Sanctuary Association accreditation. We are also the 2016 recipient of the Carole Noon Award for Sanctuary Excellence. Our board is made up of actual, hands-on bat specialists, bat educators, authors of bat-related books, and bat lecturers with a combined 76 years of bat experience. Donations allow Bat World Sanctuary to survive.
You can support the bat rescue and conservation efforts of Bat World Sanctuary through CaringCent’s roundup fundraising. Learn more and sign up here!