Fragile City Bat Survives Country Rehab

Back in December, the Bryant Park Project began blogging about a tiny silver-haired bat living in the crevice of a wall near NPR's Washington, D.C., headquarters.

Days later, Bat Mitzvah, as the show began calling her, disappeared. It turns out a bat rehabilitator had taken the creature to Bat World NOVA sanctuary. Leslie Sturges cares for a half-dozen bats at a time in her Fairfax County, Va., home.

Sturges says Bat Mitzvah was dehydrated when she first found her. The bat spent the winter eating meal worms and making practice flights in a mesh-enclosed gazebo behind Sturges' house. A cold, fitful spring kept the bat in captivity longer than expected. "The wonderful thing about rehab is to have a wild creature share your life for a little bit and then go finish being wild," she says. "Our interest is not in keeping them — it is in helping them go on. All these wild animals are up against such pressure from people right now that any little thing we can do to help them live a healthy life, we feel like we kind of owe it to them."

Finally, on Wednesday, the bat was strong enough and the weather warm enough for her to fly free. Sturges released her in Fort Macy Park, across the Potomac River from Washington. She made no effort to track Bat Mitzvah, saying it's not practical for small-scale rehabilitators. "To do that, you need things like radio transmitters, airplanes and whole research crews, and that doesn't happen for us bat rehabilitators," she says. "We just, you know, cross our fingers and hope she is going to be just fine. If I never ever see her again, then I know she did really well. That's how we feel about all of them."

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