Princesses, witches and superheroes grabbed their parents’ hands and rushed to see Frick and Frack.
The pair of Australian bat pups peeked from behind their shiny black wings at the families gathered around their cage Saturday afternoon at the 14th annual Florida Bat Festival at the Lubee Bat Conservancy. About 50 bats, — 13 species in total — flew around their cages, nibbled on snacks and tucked themselves into their wings, said Brian Pope, the conservancy director.
“Now we have native bats, and people are going to see how different they are from the ones they would find in their backyard,” Pope said.
For the first time, the festival expanded its beer garden for parents and hosted kids’ costume contests throughout the daylong event, Pope said.
Alligators, snakes, turtles and spiders were on display in cages for families to learn about. People were allowed to take pictures but could not pet any of the animals, including the bats, Pope said.
The festival raises money to fund the conservancy’s research and bat rescues, Pope said. Bats are rescued from their native environments that are destroyed by deforestation or pollution.
Lauren Paul, a 21-year-old UF political science junior, went to the festival to get in the fall spirit.
“I did not know a lot about bats before coming here, but now I feel like I’ve learned a lot,” Paul said. “Now it’s apparent why it’s important to protect where they come from.”