Statler, 33: Enjoys simulated flights, sponge baths and fruit salad.
The elderly Indian flying fox, believed to be the oldest living bat in captivity, is spending his retirement in style at the “geribatric ward” at Bat World Sanctuary in Weatherford, Texas.
Although he has just one eye, suffers from arthritis, and can no longer fly, Statler goes out for his daily “flight” almost every day. He simply spreads his wings, and his caretakers carry him around the facility for sightseeing and snacks.
He was a major hit online this week after The Dodo produced a video about his high-flying retirement living.
He shares the geribatric ward with two other elderly bats, Chessie and Starlie, according to Addison McCool, executive director of Bat World Sanctuary.
“Most of our bats, they’re still very much wild animals,” she told HuffPost. “Statler is a little bit of an exception to that. He’s quite the special boy in that he really, really loves being with us and loves being around people.”
His companions prefer to do their own thing, McCool explained, which mostly entails snacks and bed. “It’s pretty much just Statler that likes to fly around,” she added.
When he’s not zooming around the sanctuary, McCool said, Statler likes to kick back in his hammock, snack on fruit and hang out with Chessie and Starlie. He also gets arthritis medication daily, as well as a warm facial and gentle brushes.
Statler was born on April 28, 1987, at Riverbanks Zoo in South Carolina. He had a difficult life before he arrived in 2018 at the sanctuary, a nonprofit that rescues and cares for bats that have been orphaned, mistreated or can’t be released into the wild.
“He was born in a zoo and has a few battle scars, and somehow over the years he lost an eye. He came to us two years ago after the small zoo (where he was mistreated) thankfully closed,” the Bat World Sanctuary website stated.
The oldest known bat lived at least 41 years, so Statler’s carers hope he’s still got many years of pampering ahead of him. McCool said he will likely be celebrating his 34th birthday in April with a party; there’ll be singing, festivities, and of course, fruit cake.
In the meantime, Statler can add going viral and trending on Twitter to his list of life experiences.