DE
28.08.15

Bat Night at Hellabrunn Zoo

Hellabrunn Zoo invites visitors to participate in the event Bat Night. The international awareness-raising event offers an opportunity to learn interesting facts about the endangered bats and takes place on 29-30 August.

Copyright: Tierpark Hellabrunn / Fran Wiesner

Copyright: Tierpark Hellabrunn / Fran Wiesner

Copyright: Tierpark Hellabrunn / Fran Wiesner

Copyright: Tierpark Hellabrunn / Fran Wiesner

Bat Night is marked by various institutions and nature conservation organisations in more than 30 countries. Launched in 1997, the event takes place every year on the last full weekend in August. The aim of the event is to highlight the threat facing the bat species and explain to the public the causes of the threat. It is around late summer, especially the end of August, that many local species of bats begin to look for suitable wintering locations that offer sufficient protection for the winter months. This is therefore a particularly good time to observe the species.

Visitors to the Bat Cave at Hellabrunn Zoo will be able to experience the bats in action - even during the day. Over the course of this weekend, a zoo guide will relate interesting facts and stories about the cave-dwelling, frugivorous Seba's short-tailed bat from South America, as well as the native bat species found around the zoo grounds. Visitors can use a bat detector to eavesdrop on the ultrasonic positioning, orientation and communication calls of the bats. In addition, visitors will have a chance to observe two bat species - the Indian flying fox and the straw-coloured fruit bat - in the Jungle House. Bats and fruit bats together form the order of bats, which comprise about 1,100 species, the second largest group of mammals after rodents.

Bats are the only mammals that can actively fly. Their sense of orientation is equally unique: bats navigate their surroundings using ultrasonic echolocation, which allows them to detect both obstacles and prey. Even though bats are rarely seen, they fulfil extremely important ecological functions as pollinators or mosquito hunters. Bats native to Bavaria feed exclusively on insects, making them extremely useful for pest control. A single Daubenton's bat eats about 60,000 mosquitoes in the course of one summer.

There are currently seven species of bats living in Munich. They include the common noctule, the Daubenton's bat and the common pipistrelle. Bats native to Munich can be found in areas around the Isar River, in parks and in cemeteries, as well as in residential areas, buildings and hollow old trees. The smallest of the native species, such as the common pipistrelle, weighs 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.

In Bavaria, there exists more than 20 different species of bats, most of which are threatened with extinction due to various human activities. The main causes are the loss of living areas for the bat as well as suitable feeding areas and flight paths, and exposure to environmental toxins and wood preservatives. As a result, bats are also included in the states’ strict conservation measures. Visitors can learn how everyone can play their part in protecting the species at the Bat Cave in Hellabrunn Zoo. Open 11 am -5 pm on August 29 and 30.