Posted By : The Animal Facts Editorial Team
Date: January 23, 2021 10:00 pm
A rare Rodrigues fruit bat pup snuggles up behind the scenes at the Oregon Zoo
Photo Credit: Oregon Zoo / Michael Durham
Once considered the rarest bat on plant Earth the Rodrigues flying fox has had its population increased with three pups being raised at the Oregon Zoo. Keepers have noted that the pups are not just “adorable” but are also a testament to the impact that people can have on the survival of a species.
“Each new arrival is significant for this species,” said Amy Cutting, who oversees the zoo’s bat area. “Forty years ago, Rodrigues flying foxes were at the very brink of extinction. The fact that they’re still around shows how people can make a difference for wildlife.”
Rodrigues flying foxes are native only to the island of Rodrigues which is located to the east of Madagascar in the Indian ocean.
Unfortunately by the 1970s their habitat had been mostly cleared and was close to disappearing. A cyclone further reduced their population to less than 100 individuals.
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These bats found their savior with English naturalist Gerald Durrell who brought some survivors together to form a breeding colony. They are a conservation success story with 20,000 in the wild after four decades of conservation.
Oregon Zoo became home to their first Rodrigues flying foxes in 1994 and since then they have raised 50 pups. They are part of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ Species Survival Plan for Rodrigues flying foxes — a cooperative program that helps maintain genetically diverse, self-sustaining populations to guarantee the long-term future of these animals.
“Keeping a healthy insurance population in zoos is especially important for this species,” Cutting said. “With so few left and such a limited geographic range, a severe weather event on their island could essentially wipe them out.”
Currently the bats at Oregon Zoo are off display as this area is indoors. “The pup’s been very active and is eating well,” Cutting said. “Keepers say she really enjoys mashed bananas.”
A video of the rare Rodrigues fruit bats at the Oregon Zoo
Video Credit: Oregon Zoo
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