Statler, the geriatric bat that became a global internet sweetheart earlier this year, has died.
“It is with our deepest sorrow that we announce that our sweet Statler has passed away at the age of 34 years old,” his carers at Bat World Sanctuary in Weatherford, Texas, announced Wednesday. “The bat that took over the internet, the world, and most importantly… our hearts.”
The Indian flying fox found online superstardom after a video produced by The Dodo in January showcased a day in the life of his cushy retirement.
Statler suffered from arthritis, could no longer fly and had only one eye, but he still enjoyed an active routine.
He spent his days lounging with two other elderly bats in the “geribatric ward,” munching fruit salad, getting warm sponge baths and, most famously, going out for his daily simulated flight. Statler would spread his wings as his caretakers carried him through the air around the facility.
The Bat World Sanctuary said Wednesday that it was contacted by news organizations worldwide at the time, wanting to know more about “this spectacular 34 year old bat that had retired at a lil’ ol’ bat sanctuary in Weatherford” in 2018.
“He changed the hearts and minds of people all over the world, and we could never thank him enough for that. He was loved by so many, and we believe he knew that. We are thankful to have the time we did with Stat, and are so glad that he got to live out the end of his life in luxury, being spoiled, and fiercely loved,” it said.
Statler died in the arms of his caretaker Moriah while napping in the morning sun, the sanctuary said. He will be laid to rest next to his “roost mate Chessie and old friend Walter on the Sanctuary property,” it said.
Statler was believed to be the oldest living bat in captivity, according to Bat World, a nonprofit that rescues and cares for bats that have been orphaned, mistreated or can’t be released into the wild.
He was born on April 28, 1987, at Riverbanks Zoo in South Carolina and then was passed from zoo to zoo for most of his life and mistreated, leading to broken bones and other injuries, including the loss of his eye.
The sanctuary said he was rescued in 2018 from the Organization for Bat Conservation in Michigan, which shut down. He was taken to his new and final home in Weatherford.
There he lived out his days in luxury.