BatFest

This October, San Antonio will celebrate one of its most under appreciated furry little friends-the bat.  From Oct. 6 to 14, San Antonio’s first annual BatFest will commemorate the fall migration of Texas’ bat population to Mexico for the winter. The event is sponsored by Bat Conservation International (BCI), the San Antonio Zoo, Trinity University, SeaWorld, Freetail Brewing Company and several other local organizations who wish to support the bat population by educating Texans about their nocturnal neighbors.

In reference to BCI’s “Year of the Bat,” BCI founder Dr. Merlin Tuttle states, “Bats are found nearly everywhere and approximately 1,200 species account for almost a quarter of all mammals. Nevertheless, in recent decades their populations have declined alarmingly. Many are now endangered, though they provide invaluable services that we cannot afford to lose.”

According to BCI, Texas has the widest variety of bats of any U.S. state, housing 34 different species.  Although they are regarded as bloodsucking fiends in fiction, these creatures are actually beneficial to humans and our environment.

Nyta Brown, the biologist at Old Tunnel State Park in Fredericksburg, says, “Most of the bat species in Texas are insectivores. They eat a variety of insect pests including flying ants, flying beetles, mosquitoes, grasshoppers, katydids, scorpions, centipedes, etc.” Bats, she explains, control the insect population, which would otherwise threaten crops.

“By eating these agricultural pests, bats are saving farmers money that they do not have to spend on pesticide,” says Brown, “If the farmers are saving money, those savings are passed along to consumers.”

BCI and other BatFest sponsors hope that by bringing bat education to the community at several fun and interesting venues, they can alleviate the negative stigmas often associated with bats.

“Many people have misconceptions about bats and because of these misconceptions they are afraid of bats or do not understand the benefit of bats to the environment,” says Brown. “Educating people about the importance of bats… will hopefully eliminate some of these misconceptions and help people to understand why we want to keep bats here in Texas.”

Freetail Brewing Company (4035 N. Loop 1604 W.) will kick off BatFest on Saturday, Oct. 6 by releasing an all new brew: the BCI Bat Brew. Proceeds from the new brew will go to support BCI. That same day, SeaWorld will host some Batfest activities in conjunction with their annual “Run for the Fund,” a fundraiser which supports animal conservation efforts. The park will set up several bat-educational activities, including a nighttime bat-walk with bat-detectors.

On Saturday, Oct. 13, the San Antonio Zoo will present “Bat Day,” which will include several informative bat-themed activities. That night, from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., BCI will host “Bats in the Park,” a night of fun and educational activities at the Joske Pavillion at Brackenridge Park. Visitors will learn how to build and maintain a bat-house and go on an exclusive bat walk.

BatFest will culminate in a symposium at Trinity University on Sunday, Oct. 16 from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Several influential researchers, including Dr. Tuttle, will gather at Trinity University to present their most recent research on bat habitats, behaviors and impact. The symposium is free to the public, though it is recommended that those interested in attending register at .

The events listed above are only a few of the many BatFest celebrations planned for October.  For a full event calendar, visit .

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