PORTLAND, Ore. -- There are about 120 bats in the bat cave at the Oregon Zoo. Some of them are the endangered Rodrigues fruit bat, also known as the Rodrigues flying fox. One of them is named Kali and she has quite the story.
Little Kali is coming up on her first birthday. But her first year of life has been rocky.
“Unfortunately her mom did reject her,” said Laura Weiner, the Senior Keeper of Africa at the Oregon Zoo.
When Kali was born, staff found her on the ground. After multiple failed attempts at pairing Kali back with her mom, staff decided to hand raise Kali themselves.
It wasn’t easy with Kali being so little.
“Just a tiny dropper like a medicine dropper and she would get .5 mL of milk at each feeding, of her nine feedings a day,” said Weiner.
Those feedings happened around the clock.
“I was doing feedings at 1 and 3 a.m. But to me it’s so worth it,” Weiner said.
Kali is one of 40 pups born in the zoo's breeding program.
The goal is to save the endangered bat from extinction.
“They come from a very small island that's about 900 miles east of Mauritius, so in the Indian ocean,” explained Weiner.
In 1979 a cyclone left only about 70 Rodrigues bats on the island. But thanks to people who have dedicated themselves to making sure the bats don't go extinct, bats like Kali have a fighting chance.
“I never knew they were this big,” 9-year-old Zoe Shoplock said as she stared into the bat cave.
“It's sad that some of them are endangered,” she continued.
Helping endangered bats also means people can get up close and personal.
“Then you're like yeah, I'm much more likely to think about bats and their protection,” said Zoe’s mom, Barbara.
As for Kali, she's growing and integrating with her fellow bats pretty well.
“She has an amazing personality. She's very cuddly sometimes,” said Weiner who likened Kali to a teenager.
“Some days she wants lots of attention from you and other days she’s very independent and wants to be on her own. But either way, every day is really a joy to work with her,” Weiner continued.
It’s clear, Kali is a small bat with a lot of spunk. She is getting a second chance at life thanks to staff at the Oregon Zoo. She is the first Rodrigues bat hand raised at the zoo.
There are about 1,300 bat species worldwide. While Rodrigues bats eat fruit, many others eat insects.
An adult bat can eat a thousand bugs an hour every night. So if you don't like pests, you should probably have a soft spot for bats.
You can follow the Oregon Zoo on Facebook. It periodically posts videos showing staff giving animals a second shot at life.