Addition of bats to the exhibit demonstrates their important role in the ecosystem

Known as “flying foxes,” Indian fruit bats are among the largest species of bat in the world

To help protect them in the wild, WCS Works across the range of Indian fruit bats in Cambodia and Malaysia

NEW YORK – March 22, 2012 – The Wildlife Conservation Society’s Bronx Zoo has added high-flyers to JungleWorld – 21 giant Indian fruit bats.

Indian fruit bats are commonly known as greater Indian flying foxes because of their size, reddish-brown coat, large eyes, and dog-like faces. They are one of the largest bat species in the world with a wingspan of approximately four to five feet.

“Bats are a vital part of the ecosystems where they live. Many species around the world are seeing significant population declines due to human activity and habitat loss,” said Jim Breheny, WCS Executive Vice President and Bronx Zoo Director. “We added these animals to JungleWorld to educate visitors about the incredible diversity of species found in Asia.”

During the day, these animals sleep upside down suspended from tree branches. They fan themselves with their wings to regulate temperature and vocalize to communicate with the others as they wrestle for roosts.

Unlike many bats, fruit bats navigate and find their food by sight and are more active when there is still some daylight. Other species of bats are only active at night and use echolocation to find insects and small vertebrates.

Indian fruit bats roost communally in trees, so the trees and branches within the exhibit must be able to large enough to accommodate numerous individuals that may each weigh three pounds or more. Because the breadth of their wingspans, it is imperative that flight corridors be provided so they can easily move through the foliage to get to and from roosting and feeding areas.

Special feeding stations made of large mesh panels are provided for the bats. The mesh allows the bats to land and hang while eating from their food dishes.

Bats play a vital role in the ecology of many landscapes around the world. They are important to many species of plants and trees in their role as pollinators and seed dispersers. They also help fertilize soil with their droppings.

Indian fruit bats are largely found in Southeast Asia but also occur in China. They live in large colonies ranging from hundreds to thousands of individuals. In the wild, they feed on a wide variety of fruits and flowers.

Although the Indian fruit bats live across their range in healthy populations, their numbers are drastically declining due to hunting, habitat loss, and persecution by fruit farmers. The Wildlife Conservation Society works across the Indian fruit bat’s Asian range and has studied their migratory patterns in Cambodia and Malaysia to better understand how to protect them.

Opened in 1985, JungleWorld is a simulated indoor Asiatic rainforest that features several multi-species exhibits. The naturalistic habitats create a total immersion experience for guests and is home to animals found in the jungles of Asia including, ebony and silvery langurs, white cheeked gibbons, Malayan tapirs, Asian small-clawed otters, as well as many different species of retiles, birds, and fish. 

Max Pulsinelli: (o) 718-220-5182;
Steve Fairchild: (o) 718-220-5189;

The Wildlife Conservation Society’s Bronx Zoo is open daily from 10:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Adult admission is $16, children (3-12 years old) $12, children under 3 are free, seniors (65+) are $14. Parking is $13 for cars and $16 for buses. The Bronx Zoo is conveniently located off the Bronx River Parkway at Exit 6; by train via the #2 or #5 or by bus via the #9, #12, #19, #22, MetroNorth, or BxM11 Express Bus service (from Manhattan that stops just outside the gate.) To plan your trip, visit or call 718-367-1010.

The Wildlife Conservation Society saves wildlife and wild places worldwide. We do so through science, global conservation, education and the management of the world’s largest system of urban wildlife parks, led by the flagship Bronx Zoo. Together these activities change attitudes towards nature and help people imagine wildlife and humans living in harmony. WCS is committed to this mission because it is essential to the integrity of life on earth.