Wild Animal Sanctuary

Visiting a Wild Animal Sanctuary combines the amazing benefits of supporting wildlife conservation, meeting great people dedicating their lives to helping wildlife and, of course, getting close to beautiful animals.


What is a Wildlife Sanctuary?

A wildlife sanctuary is a place where you can go see wild animals, but instead of them being taken from the wild they are rescued.

Rescued animals can be:

  • injured or sick wild animals from the area,
  • orphans,
  • abandoned or mistreated exotic pets,
  • confiscated animals from the exotic pet trade.

So animal sanctuaries are pretty awesome places, generally sanctuaries:

  • rescue and/or care for local wildlife in trouble,
  • feed and rehabilitate wild animals to be able to release them back in the wild,
  • are often the last chance for permanently disabled wildlife, in other words the only alternative to being put down for an animal that, for any number of reasons, will not survive in the wild,
  • have often a big role in education and conservation campaigns.

A wild animal sanctuary is the best place to go if you want to be sure to see animals up close, yet are not so keen on Zoos.

Wild Animal Sanctuary in the spotlight: Tolga Bat Hospital

Tolga-bat-hospital

The Tolga Bat Hospital, a wonderful bat sanctuary in Queensland, Australia

Bats are so cool

Bats are amazing animals in so many ways!

  • First of all, obviously, they are the only mammals that can sustain flight.
  • They are essential to plants: bats are the most effective pollinator and seed disperser. Yes, bats are actually more efficient than bees or birds! Pretty cool, hey?
  • Bats are better than mozzie repellent: one bat could kill up to 1200 mosquitoes in one hour!

 

flying-fox

"No me, no tree"


Other bat facts you might be surprised by:

  • One mammal in four is a bat. There are actually 1100 species of bats in the world. That's a lot!
  • Most of these 1100 bat species are microbats (small bats) and a few are megabats, also called fruit bats or flying foxes.
  • There is no blood sucking bat. All but three species of bats eat mainly either insects or fruits. The three bat species that feed on blood lap it, not suck it. So vampire stories are just that: stories.
  • Nonetheless, the bat species that lap blood are still called the “vampire” bats. And doctors are convinced that their saliva, full of anticoagulants, is going to help us save human lives very soon. Research is focusing on how bat saliva can be used treat heart conditions and stop the effects of strokes in humans.
  • Many bats use echolocation (mainly microbats), just like dolphins. Because they feed at night and on tiny insects, sight would not be efficient for many bats. Instead they send clicks through the air and collect the sounds that bounce back with their big ears.
  • Flying foxes on the contrary use their eyesight - they can see better than humans, and have a great night vision like cats. (so the saying "blind as a bat" is not that clever...)

Rescued spectacled flying fox enjoying a drink

PS: If you encounter someone that is frightened of bats because they carry nasty diseases, get your facts right:

Yes, some bats have really dangerous viruses such as Rabies, Ebola or Hendra. Bats don’t seem to be sick themselves, but they can carry viruses around.

But, people very rarely get killed by bats.

Not that I want anyone to be afraid of animals but they are so many more dangerous animals (including mosquitoes which are often quoted as the Number One Dangerous Animal – which always make me wonder why humans are not topping that list...).

And more to the point, if you look at the principal causes of humans deaths in the world, people should be so SO much more afraid of the hamburger they had for lunch (heart disease is the main human killer) than bats.

The only dangerous thing with bats is to get bitten or scratched, which means no one should touch a bat. And when this happens, as long as medical treatment is seek and received quickly, most people survive.


So the right facts to share are:

  • Don’t be over reacting, your eating habits, cars, or almost any other things in your environment are much more dangerous than a bat, but:
  • If you can, avoid touching bats, make sure your children know that too;
  • If you get a scratch or a bite, know that this is a potentially dangerous situation and seek medical assistance immediately.

But bats are in trouble

For example, half of all bat species in the USA are either declining or endangered.

Some bat populations in Europe and North America have been reduced by 95% by a fungus causing a disease: the white nose syndrome.

A bat safe heaven

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Feeding time for the rescued flying foxes: banana smoothies and fresh apples!

In Australia, bats are in decline through a combination of habitat loss, disease and unlucky interactions with humans or human-made objects.

I recently visited the Tolga Bat Hospital, a Wild Animal Sanctuary where sick, injured and orphaned bats are cared for in the hope of a released in the wild.

 

The Tolga Bat Hospital has many strategies in their fight to get bats a brighter future:

  • Rescue bats directly as the name indicates: this include rescuing bats in trouble, rehabilitating them and releasing them when possible, with world class hospital facilities,
  • Long term care for bats that can no longer be released, this is the sanctuary side, in the shape of some huge enclosures and outdoor netting structures for the bats living outside the cage,
  • Inform and spread the word about how amazing and essential bats are, youth education is an important part,
  • Protect bats habitat: because no wild animal can survive without a home,
  • Support research, as before we act we need to know how to act!



What will you do at the Tolga Bat Hospital?

The Tolga Bat Hospital has a giant flying fox rehabilitation enclosure or "Megabat flight cage". You can see different species of flying foxes there: Spectacled, Little Red, Black, Grey-headed and Tube-nose fruit bats. They are all gorgeous!

Flying foxes are large bats that eat mostly fruits. Although nocturnal, they love the sun and normally sleep during the day in big roosts in trees.

They come in care after cat attacks, becoming entangled in barbed wire or badly designed fruit nests. A recent problem is the paralisis tick. Due to human disturbance (the introduction of an invasive plant) bats are now in contact with the tick with dramatic outcomes. The Tolga Hospital receives up to 300 orphans during the tick season.

The bats come very close, and you can get spectacular shots when they enjoy their fresh apple and banana smoothies!

If there are orphans in care, you may be lucky to see some adorable babies flying foxes.


Microbats are present too: these are small bats that feed on insects. You can close to the Hospital resident microbats in their flight cage.

microbat


There is also a Visitor Center on site with displays and movies: a wealth of facts about how amazing bats are and their need for protection.


Also I liked all the bat stuffs you can find at the shop, I personally am very proud of my bat shirt!

Support the Tolga Bat Hospital!

Do you want more information on the many ways you can help this great Wild Animal Sanctuary the Tolga Bat Hospital is?

Go check the Tolga Bat Hospital website!


flying-fox-eating

Spectacled flying foxes snacking on some apple



A great way to help wildlife is to support your local Wild Animal Sanctuary: visit it with your family, donate, volunteer, develop partnership with your business or your school, fund raise: there are many ways you can help!

Sanctuaries are devoted to improve wild animals’ lives and are often the only long term solution for wild animals that have been badly hurt.

So search for a sanctuary near you on the internet, and start getting involved with them today!