Best Bat House Around: World First for Rare Bat Species

Could Durrell’s 800 square-metre Livingstone’s fruit bat enclosure be the world’s biggest and best bat house around? Come see for yourself, and be prepared to witness some aerial acroBATics! We at Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust have recently completed the huge task of doubling the size of the 'Island Bat Roost' which houses Jersey Zoo’s rarest mammal species, the Livingstone's fruit bat. The 100% increase in space will allow this colony of Livingstone's and Rodrigues fruit bats to grow further. Our unique enclosure has already proved very successful with eight bat pups being born so far this year! Dominic Wormell, Head of Mammals: “Our bats are clearly enjoying the larger space, which allows them to fly continuously and safely around a whopping 100m circle. This type of enclosure is a world first for fruit bats in captivity. With the space to fly even more freely, our bats are fitter, healthier than ever to return to life in the wild, should they need to.” Critically Endangered in the wild, the Livingstone’s fruit bat is only found on two small islands in the Comoros, northwest of Madagascar. The islands' human population is expanding rapidly, and the resulting deforestation is hitting the bats’ habitat hard. They’re now found only in a few roost sites, high up in the mountains. If the destruction of their forests continues, the species could finally disappear from the wild – simply wiped out in one severe tropical storm. This would be a tragedy in itself, but would also have a disastrous impact on the remaining forest, and ultimately the islands’ people - the fruit bats are crucial pollinators and seed dispersers. Durrell has been working with its partners, Dahari and Bristol Zoo, on conservation and education programmes on the islands for several decades. Bats bred in captivity could be used to repopulate the islands if the species declines further still. It is therefore imperative that the population in captivity expands from its current low numbers. There are only 67 individuals in captivity, of which Jersey Zoo has 54. The expansion of the 'Island Bat Roost' is great news for this captive population of Livingstone's fruit bats and their wild cousins. We hope to see many more pups born in the coming years. Thank you to ANIMAL FRIENDS for their generous donation which enabled us to build this extension and to David and Jacqui Whitely who sponsored the climate control system.