A Five Foot Wing Span and 72 Bananas

Dusty gravel slid under my truck wheels as I turned into the small parking lot and stepped out into triple digit heat.

As I walked into a quiet, unassuming building on a hilltop in Mineral Wells, Texas, a bat door knocker welcomed me. In the small foyer were bat photos and a mail tray. And inside this building was a place like no other.

As I tell you about it, it seems important to stress that I am not an employee, nor receive any compensation for this blog entry. I never even intended to write it. It was to be a private thing. I am doing so as a person overcome today with emotion at what she has seen. I am revealing to you a piece of my life story, just as I shared about the night of tornados and the day a whale showed me her dance while deep at sea.

Seven years ago, my “Adopt-a-Bat” packet arrived from Bat World Sanctuary, the largest sanctuary in the world dedicated solely to bats. They help and then release bats who can survive on their own and provide lifelong sanctuary for those who cannot.

I delicately placed the packet on my glass-topped coffee table in eager anticipation. As I sat on the floor, deeply immersed in bat details, my wine glass was forgotten and my cheese tray went dry.

Within a week of receiving it, I met Rocky. He had a very small wing span but created a huge influence in my life. He was so named, as we met at the foot of the Rocky Mountains. His story starts out hard and ends in beauty.

Tiny Rocky was being abused in a parking lot. A group of people were alternately frightened of him and cruel in curiosity. They were attacking a small creature who, in size, could fit into the palm of a hand. A store manager approached with a broom for the final blow.

I had no idea what to do, but when the proverbial smoke cleared, the people had run off and I had possession of Rocky. A rehab person arrived to take him. Saved, doctored, and eventually released… Rocky flew free again across the Colorado sky, in true beauty and excellent health. The Adopt-a-Bat packet held new meaning for me.

That was 2015. It had taken those seven long years to apply as a volunteer to such an impressive place. I was stunned to receive a positive response. And I had no idea of how my world was about to change. Listen up, Rocky!

There are many bats at this sanctuary. They are all unique. I could speak of how bats are beneficial to man and the globe he lives upon, but much more so is an individual with a complex personality and a soul with a right to life.

The namesake of this post is The Captain, an Indian Flying Fox rescued from a zoo. He does indeed have a five foot wingspan and he is beautiful. He now lives in luxury in an open enclosure with no barriers, plenty of food and enrichment, and doting caretakers. Many others live in this same luxury, having been rescued from the pet trade or research.

But they are also allowed to be wild animals in this habitat. They are not pets.

If I were them, I imagine happily hearing this: “You are safe now. Go in there and be a bat.”

On another writing day, I will tell you of the very moving experience of being inside a bat enclosure during the day and inside the completely overturned world it becomes at night. I will tell you of the song of many species together as they sang in freedom, the elation of soaring with their wings sounding like a baseball repeatedly hitting a glove. I will tell you of how, walking through them, I was the air between a baseball and a glove.

I may also delicately speak of bat droppings in my hair and exuberantly tell of another who is the loudest bat I have ever met. I will definitely tell you about 72 bananas.

Meanwhile, here is a photo of Rocky. He was a Little Brown Bat. Is he not incredibly beautiful? I am also keenly aware that his name could also refer to the boxing hero, Rocky, but it didn’t occur to me until after the fact. Either way, “Eye of the Tiger” and a flight into a sky the color of the Denver Broncos… at the foot of the great Rocky Mountains, this little bat was something else! If you are still out there, Rocky, hello and good hunting tonight!

(I also included some links for you to enjoy)

If you meet a bat in need: https://batworld.org/what-to-do-if-you-found_a_bat/

Fun things here: https://www.facebook.com/batworld.org/

The ultimate of fun things here: https://batworld.org/bat-cams/


4 thoughts on “A Five Foot Wing Span and 72 Bananas

  1. You are very good at writing, and have the ability to draw pictures with your words!! Keep it up, and, when you feel like it, put them all in a book, then tell me, and I’ will buy one!!!

    • Thank you for such kind words, my dear friend. It really means a lot to me for encouragement.! Thank you for your beautiful line about “ability to draw pictures with words.”

    • Ken, it is truly a humbling and yes, moving, experience. My heart sings each day. I cannot say enough wonderful things about Bat World and the people who work there, nor enough thankfulness for the opportunity. And I will always remember how I saw in little Rocky, so many facial expressions, so much emotion. I had loved bats, but had never been so close, eye to eye, to see the unique changes in expressions, just like any little animal has, just as you and I have. And at Bat World, I see it each time I am there. They are each individuals to the minutely detailed max.

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