Interact with Live Bats at Elachee

by Kristen Oliver, The Gainesville Times, originally published March 31, 2016 in GET OUT

There is one mammal on earth capable of true flight and Elachee Nature Science Center wants to share them with the public.

Interaction with live bats will be possible at the Elachee Bat-tastic Festival from 1-4 p.m. Saturday, April 9, at the Nature Science Center at 2125 Elachee Drive in Gainesville.

"We're going to have a bat expert, Vicki Smith, on site and she's going to give two different presentations," said Kim Marks with Elachee. "She will have live bats and will be able to explain basically what they are and about their habitats."

The bats present will be perfectly safe, Marks said. They are not native to Georgia, but are actually Egyptian bats.

"People will not be able to touch these bats, but will be able to examine and be near them," she said.

An Elachee Naturalist wil also have sugar gliders, or nocturnal gliding possum belonging to the marsupial infraclass, which guests may touch.

"They have similar characteristics to bats, but they are a complete different species," Marks said. "This is an animal people can actually touch, and our Naturalist allows it to crawl all over her whie people come up and touch."

Guests will learn the differences between bats and sugar gliders. The festival is a good opportunity for families to tour the limited engagement bat exhibition, "Masters of the Night: The True Story of Bats," which is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. that day, while the festival itself will be 1-4 p.m.

Admission includes the exhibition, which runs through Labor Day, the festival and access to Elachee's other live animal exhibits.

The presentations at the festival will inform visitors about Georgia bats in particular. The state has more species of bats than all of Europe combined, with two species on the endangered species list.

"We'll have some other activities, age appropriate activities including crafts for children, but the intent is that they are learning something," Marks said. "So by the end of the day, they're leaving with a greater knowledge of the beneficial properties of bats, how thay impact our environment locally as well as globally."

WHEN: 1-4 p.m., Saturday, April 9, 2016

WHERE: Elachee Nature Science Center, 2125 Elachee Drive, Gainesville, GA 30504

COST: $8 General Admission, $4 Elachee Member, Free to Children 2 and Younger

MORE INFO: 770-535-1976 or www.elachee.org