As Bat Conservation International celebrates its 30th anniversary, the whole world is celebrating bats. The United Nations Environment Programme officially declared 2011-2012 as International Year of the Bat. And BCI, as a Founding Partner, is playing a key role in supporting bat-awareness events in the United States and around the world. The Year of the Bat offers an unprecedented opportunity to educate millions of people about the benefits of bats and the threats they face.
This past year saw lectures, conferences, bat watching and more than two dozen other events around North America, from Moodus, Connecticut to Portland, Oregon. Dozens more are planned this year. Europe's 15-year-old Bat Night expanded in the United States and elsewhere last August 27, and the first International Bat Appreciation Week begins April 9, with U.S. events coordinated by BCI.
More than 50 organizations and individuals have signed on as BCI's Year of the Bat partners and more are joining each week.
BCI Education Director James Eggers leads our Year of the Bat efforts, making frequent presentations and helping partners around the United States and elsewhere to organize educational events. BCI is providing materials for Year of the Bat celebrations. These may be downloaded without charge from BCI's website (www.batcon.org/yotb), where you'll also find a fast-growing list of events around the United States and elsewhere.
A major partner for Year of the Bat and into the future is the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. Eggers serves on AZA's Year of the Bat Committee, which is planning and coordinating a wide range of events, including symposia, live broadcasts, webinars, and a traveling education program. BCI will host the official AZA Year of the Bat committee's webpage. The committee's goal is to get its positive message about bats to millions this year.
"The Year of the Bat offers perhaps the best opportunity we've ever had to build partnerships, expand education and support conservation in the field, both in the United States and internationally," Eggers said. "And we are doing everything in our power to take full advantage of it."
To find Year of the Bat events near you or for help in developing your celebration, visit www.batcon.org/yotb.