Maybe to you, bats are not animals that immediately present as cute. Maybe you think of them as strange and leathery and flooding en masse from the rafters of abandoned buildings to frighten you (specifically) and tangle their hand-hooks in your hair. Maybe you are just very sick of hearing your dad talk about bats all the time, as dads are wont to do. I don’t know what kinds of experiences you have had with bats, but I invite you to please consider Statler, an elder statesman of bats. He has one eye and enjoys warm sponge baths. Do you accept this grandpa?
Statler lives at Bat World Sanctuary in Weatherford, Texas, and became an internet sensation on Tuesday, when Twitter users began sharing a Dodo video about his life and times. At 33, Statler may be the oldest living bat in captivity. He has already exceeded the high end of an Indian flying fox’s life expectancy — about 31 years — and can no longer fly on his own. He lives in Bat World’s “geribatric” ward with approximately 20 other bat seniors and hangs out primarily with another Indian flying fox named Starlie (his GF?) and a Rodrigues fruit bat named Chessie.
In his prime and his natural habitat, Statler would surely have helped disperse fruit seeds and pollen, doubtless playing a crucial role in his ecosystem. In the geribatric unit, “Statler loves to recline in a hammock where his favorite foods are close by,” the sanctuary reports. “He gets arthritis medication every day as well as a warm facial and gentle brushes.”
Statler apparently bounced around from zoo to zoo before landing at Bat World, accruing a number of “battle scars” along the way. Despite his declining mobility, Statler still enjoys a daily, simulated flight. “Because of all his injuries and his age,” a caretaker explains in the video, “we hold him.” They zoom him through the air and over to a large bowl of fruit, where he gets to pick his snacks, as many snacks as his little mouth can hold.
We should all be so lucky.