ROYAL OAK (WWJ) – Dozens of displaced animals — including three species of bats — will find a new home at the Detroit Zoo.

sloth Detroit Zoo Provides Sanctuary For Animals Displaced By Bat Zone Closure

Molasses the sloth hangs out in his home at The Bat Zone. (Photo: Marisa Fusinski/WWJ)

The Detroit Zoological Society is providing sanctuary to 61 animals in need of rescue after the sudden closure of Bat Zone in Pontiac.

Fifty-four bats – including straw-colored fruit bats, short-tailed fruit bats and Jamaican fruit bats – as well as five southern flying squirrels, a Linnea’s two-toed sloth and a Cranwell’s horned frog are being moved to DZS facilities in the coming days, according to a news release.

“This is an unfortunate situation and we are doing everything we can to assist them in placing animals with facilities capable of ensuring their lifetime care, including taking in more than 60 of the animals at the Detroit Zoo,” said Dr. Randi Meyerson, deputy chief life sciences officer for the DZS.

The DZS has been working closely with other accredited institutions around the country to assist the Organization for Bat Conservation (the nonprofit which operated Bat Zone until its closure this week) to find appropriate homes for more than 200 animals. Habitats are being prepared at the Detroit Zoo to accommodate many of the animals.

The animals will be under quarantine for at least 30 days before moving to mostly behind-the-scenes areas of the Zoo. The DZS is helping with placement of many of the other animals in Association of Zoos & Aquariums accredited zoos and Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries accredited sanctuaries.

The DZS has a long history of providing sanctuary to exotic animals in need of rescue from private owners, pseudo-sanctuaries, roadside zoos and circuses. Past rescues include more than 1,000 exotic animals confiscated by authorities from an animal wholesaler in Texas, a polar bear from a tropical circus, lions found in abandoned urban homes and lions held in a junkyard in Kansas.

The rescue and care of these animals is being supported by the DZS Kalter/Lezotte Fund for Wildlife Rescue, which was established to facilitate the rescue of animals with the intent to provide sanctuary at the Detroit Zoo. (The public can contribute to the fund by sending a check, made payable to the Detroit Zoological Society, to the Fund for Wildlife Rescue, 8450 W. 10 Mile Road, Royal Oak, MI 48067, or by calling 248-336-5704).

After announcing the nonprofit’s closure last week, volunteers with the Organization for Bat Conservation said they would make sure all of their animals were found happy, healthy new homes. “We are working diligently with experts in the field to select the new homes that are best equipped to care for the animals and to transfer the animals safely,” the group said in a Facebook post.

Over the weekend, the organization announced that the Lubee Bat Conservancy, in Gainesville, Florida would provide the Bat Zone’s Malayan Flying Foxes a new home, and that the Stage Nature Center in Troy, Michigan has offered a permanent placement for all of the owls.

All of this comes after Rob Mies — who founded the Organization for Bat Conservation in 1992 — was fired as executive director on Feb. 5, and removed from the board of directors on Feb. 18. The Detroit Free Press reports that Mies was accused him of inappropriate workplace behavior by two Bat Zone employees, but denies any wrongdoing.

  1. Wow, it certainly sounds convenient for the Detroit Zoo that the Bat Zone was closed.
    Something really doesn’t sound right. To close it down so quickly and with no options explored to truly investigate and reorganize if that was even necessary, sounds incredibly hasty and irresponsible…and devastating to Mr. Mies who gave his heart and soul to the bats and other creatures and his mission to educate people, children especially about these amazing creatures. The city of Pontiac is also hurting for this too. My heart goes out to Rob Mies and his dedicated staff and the animals that were a part of that incredible organization.

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