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Bats, kids, TV and the Internet

Why do bats hang upside down? How come bats sleep all day? How long do bats live? Do bats bite? Can I have a bat for a pet?

These were among the many questions asked by kids in more than 250 classrooms scattered across the United States and into Canada as they watched – and participated in – Bats: Live on the Big Screen! this past Halloween.

BCI Public Information Coordinator Dianne Odegard has partnered with the Texas Wildlife Association several times each year since 2009 for these interactive distance-learning programs. The Internet-based videoconferences, complete with live bats and the opportunity for children to ask questions in real time, have dramatically amplified BCI’s educational voice.

Odegard describes them as “show and tell” sessions that explain why bats are worth caring about and how kids can help bats. Bats, she says, are never a hard sell for children, who seem to have a natural affinity for these much-maligned mammals. In the words of a popular BCI poster: “Out all night, sleep all day – no wonder kids love bats!”

The Halloween presentation was watched by more than 9,400 students in grades 1-5 in 11 U.S. states and 2 Canadian provinces, a record for all of TWA’s distance-learning programs. With live bats of several U.S. species, as well as Zoey, an African straw-colored fruit bat who is a veteran BCI ambassador, the kids get to see exactly what bats really look like.

And you just never know how far that spark of excitement at seeing a real bat will take a child; perhaps some future bat scientists and conservationists were in that fascinated young audience.

Oh, and about those questions: Bats’ circulatory systems prevent blood from rushing to their heads; bats have adapted to feast on night-flying insects and night-blooming plants; one species of insect-eating bat can live at least 41 years; bats, like any wild animal, may bite if frightened; and no, bats are wild animals, and they do not make good or happy pets.

The next  BATS: LIVE on the BIG screen! video conference will be May 20th. Register now!

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Last Updated: Friday, 24 January 2014
Unless otherwise noted, all images are copyright ©Merlin D. Tuttle and/or ©Bat Conservation International