DE
25.08.16

Bat Night - Bat weekend at Hellabrunn Zoo

On 27-28 August, Hellabrunn Zoo will mark International Bat Night with special events in the Bat Cave and the Jungle World. Between 11am - 5pm, visitors will have an opportunity to learn everything worth knowing about bats and the closely related flying foxes (megabats) and observe them up close.

Seba's short-tailed bat (Copyright: Tierpark Hellabrunn / Fran Wiesner)

Straw-coloured fruit bat (Copyright: Tierpark Hellabrunn / Fran Wiesner)

Indian flying fox (Copyright: Tierpark Hellabrunn / Fran Wiesner)

Bat Night is an annual celebration of bats that takes place each year on the last full weekend in August. The event was launched in 1997 is celebrated by nature conservation agencies and NGOs in more than 30 countries. Hellabrunn will mark the event for the second time this year. Bats and flying foxes together form the systematic order of bats, which with ca. 1,100 species represents the second largest mammal group after rodents.

This year our zoo guide will once again provide visitors with interesting facts about the fruit-eating Seba's short-tailed bat from South America living in the Bat Cave, as well as about the native bat species found on the zoo grounds. Visitors will also be able to track and listen to bats with the help of a bat detector, which transforms the ultrasonic sounds of the bats into signals audible to humans.

The events will not only take place in the Bat Cave; there will be plenty of Hellabrunn bats in action in the Jungle World. Here live two species of flying fox: the Indian flying fox and the straw-coloured fruit bat originally from Africa. The keepers will also hold special Bat Talks over the coming weekend during which they will answer visitors' questions: 12pm in front of the Bat Cave, and 3pm in the Jungle World.

Late summer is a particularly good time to observe bats as many native species use this period to look for suitable wintering areas that offer them sufficient protection in the cooler months. There are eight species of bats living In Munich, including the common noctule, the Daubenton's bat and the common pipistrelle. They can be observed, in particular, by the Isar river, in local parks, in cemeteries, but also in residential areas, on or in buildings and inside hollow old trees. The smallest native species, such as the common pipistrelle, weighs only between three to six grams and can easily fit inside a matchbox. The largest of the native species weighs no more than 30 to 40 grams.

Bats are the only mammals that can fly. Another unique feature is their sense of orientation: They explore their surroundings using echolocation in the ultrasonic range, which they use to "hear" or detect both obstacles and prey. Although rarely seen, bats fulfil vital ecological functions, for example as pollinators and mosquito hunters. Bats living in Bavaria feed exclusively on insects, making them extremely useful pest control. For example: a single Daubenton's bat consumes about 60,000 mosquitoes in the course of one summer.

In the state of Bavaria, there are more than 20 different species of bats, most of which are threatened with extinction due to various human impact. The main threat causes are the loss of bat roosts, suitable feeding areas and flight routes as well as exposure to environmental toxins and wood preservatives. Bats are therefore under strict protection. To find out more about how each of us can play a part in saving the bats visit the Bat Cave at Hellabrunn Zoo this bat weekend on 27 -28 August between 11am - 5pm.