If you're going to Kuranda in the Atherton Tablelands of Queensland, Australia, you should definitely check this wildlife rehabilitation center out! Are you interested in Australian wildlife? Do you want to meet some incredible individuals up close? Drop by and visit BatReach!
Most travelers visiting Australia come from areas without flying foxes, or fruit bats. These bats are entirely different from the bats most of us are used to at home. Flying foxes (so-called because their faces resemble the face of a fox) are much larger than the micro-bats found in Europe and the Americas. Their populations are in decline, so Pam, owner and caregiver at BatReach, has dedicated her time and home to caring for orphaned and injured bats. She takes in many babies each year that are orphaned when their mothers are bitten by ticks that cause paralysis (and death for baby and mother if not found quickly by volunteers) and raises them to adulthood, when they are released back into the surrounding rainforest. Raising an orphaned bat, some not more than days old, requires around-the-clock care, with feedings usually every three hours. She also takes in injured bats and nurses them to health. If possible they are released, and otherwise they have a permanent home at the center. Pam also takes in a variety of other wildlife, though visitors are normally only shown the most exciting occupants, the bats.
Visiting BatReach is free, and you can help by donating any amount for the care of the bats as well as by buying shirts, cards, and more from the small gift shop. Pam usually opens her doors to the public most days of the week in the afternoon. When you arrive in Kuranda, go to the visitors center right next to the park in the center of town (where most buses stop) and ask for more information. Kuranda makes a great day trip or overnight trip, with many cute shops, galleries, and attractions to keep you busy.
I was last in Australia in November 2005 when I met Pam. My friend and I stayed with her for two weeks to help care for the orphaned bats, and it was one of the best experiences in my four month trip. You can inquire about volunteering if you are interested; I'm not sure about her current needs but she is definitely kept busy with so many animals to care for. Be sure to pay a visit though when you're in Kuranda. It's a wonderful opportunity to meet some of Australia's native wildlife up close!
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