Introducing the Native Bat Conservation Program and #WingedWednesdays! 🦇🦇🦇

Welcome to our new summer batty blog guest series #WingedWednesdays, courtesy of Adopt-A-Pond! We are the Toronto Zoo’s Native Bat Conservation Program (NBCP), and we strive to conserve all eight species of bats in Ontario.

We do this through scientific research, public outreach, and knowledge sharing. Research is important to fill knowledge gaps about where bats live, as well as what and how they are doing, while public outreach allows us to clarify bat facts from fiction and convert more people to the dark side. And of course, all this effort is wasted if we do not share our findings and bring awareness to this incredible group of animals.

Toby Thorne, Toronto Zoo’s Native Bat Conservation Program Coordinator, teaching about bats while out on a night walk.

NBCP began in 2015 in response to the rapid decline of bat populations due to a fungal disease called White Nose Syndrome (WNS). WNS was accidentally introduced into North America in 2006 and spread to Ontario in 2010. We lost approximately 90% of what used to be Canada’s most common bat species, the little brown myotis, in a short amount of time.

A cluster of bats with telltale white powdery-looking noses, which is the symptom that gave white nose syndrome, caused by the fungus Pseudogymnoascus destructans, its common name.

Bats in Ontario also face other threats like injuries at windfarms and habitat destruction. Currently, half of our bat species are endangered. With this in mind, it’s important we learn more, and quickly, to help the bats that have survived! 

Our efforts since 2015 have included acoustic monitoring and capture surveys of wild bats at and near the Zoo. To date, we have identified seven of the eight Ontario species present right here on site! This revelation highlights the importance of our Zoo to many wild species, as well as those in the collection/on exhibit. It also further prompted the value of looking for wildlife in our own backyard and developing our bat program.

The eastern red bat (Lasiurus borealis) is a species that is widespread throughout North America, and is one of Ontario’s 8 native bat species!

We have a busy field season planned for this summer including acoustic work, trapping, radio telemetry, and more, so be sure to keep an eye out on #WingedWednesdays for updates and interesting finds!  

To learn more about your Toronto Zoo’s Native Bat Conservation Program, please visit: www.torontozoo.com/bats