Babies of every species have had to endure bath time. To accomplish this task, parents utilize whatever cleaning regime works for them, be it a good lick of the tongue or a proper dunk in a tub of water.
WCS’s Bronx Zoo Wildlife Health Center staff took over the parenting duties for this little Rodrigues flying fox (Pteropus rodricensis) pup when its mother could not care for her, and we had to employ a cleaning strategy that was comfortable and effective. A baby bat would be hanging on its mom almost all of the time at this age (three weeks old). Mom could easily support the baby and clean its wings while the baby was curled around her body.
Enter the sock-mom. We fashioned a stuffed, bat mom-sized pillow that our pup could wrap her wings around allowing us to gently clean both sides of her wings and her body. A clean pup is a healthy pup.
This little one, and her colony, can be seen in the zoo’s Jungle World exhibit.
EDITOR’ S NOTE: The story of the Rodrigues fruit bat pup was featured on Sunday’s episode of Animal Planet’s THE ZOO now in its third season. The series takes viewers behind the scenes at the Bronx Zoo and the other WCS wildlife parks in New York City to tell powerful, compelling stories of animals and their care givers, and the zoos’ contribution to conserving wildlife around the globe.