Rodrigues Fruit Bat (Pteropus rodricensis).

The display at Walt Dinsey World, designed in close collaboration with Bat Conservation International Founder Merlin Tuttle, features two remarkable species: the Malayan flying fox (Pteropus vampyrus) and the Rodrigues fruit bat (Pteropus rodricensis). The Malayan flying fox, also known as the large fruit bat, is easily the largest of the world’s bats. Its wingspan can exceed six feet (1.8 meters). Never before has a bat so large been on public display in North America, and the effect on visitors is dramatic.

The Rodrigues fruit bat, though much smaller, plays a key role in the educational aspect of the exhibit. It is among the rarest of mammals. Native to the single Indian Ocean island of Rodrigues in Mauritius, the species seemed destined for extinction just a quarter century ago, when only 70 Rodrigues fruit bats survived. Intense conservation efforts and a captive-breeding program have increased the population to around several thousand. The legacy of this species’ return from the brink of extinction gives us a perfect conservation message for our guests.

The Disney’s Animal Kingdom has 20 Malayan flying foxes and 7 Rodrigues fruit bats. The bats, all of them males, came from the Lubee Foundation, Inc., of Gainesville, Florida, in 1998. The nonprofit organization, dedicated to conserving Old World fruit bats, was founded by the late Luis F. Bacardi of the Bacardi Rum family, an early and stalwart supporter of BCI.

The Disney Animal Kingdom is visited by millions of pet lovers per year. Has any Mauritian Entrepreneur thought of making use of this unique opportunity to reap in some economic value from our Rodrigues fruit bat?

Because of my wife’s place of birth in La Ferme Rodrigues ,I have a foible for the Island.


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