How This Charming Fruit Bat Is Easing Into Retirement

A geriatric fruit bat who is too old to fly sounds like a heartbreakingly sad story, but 33-year-old Statler is living a life of luxury at Bat World Sanctuary in Weatherford, Texas. Thanks to the ubiquitous purveyor of adorable animal stories The Dodo, the world has become acquainted with the lovable Indian flying fox believed to be the oldest living bat in captivity. Despite having just one eye, arthritis, and no ability to fly on his own, Statler bravely carries on while being carried during daily flights around the sanctuary. He spreads and flaps his wings and looks around as if he was flying on his own, possibly "thinking about his younger years — we hope," according to Moriah, a Senior Bat Caregiver at Bat World. Statler also visits the kitchen where he can pick out his own snacks from an enormous bowl of fruit. 

Bat World Sanctuary Executive Director Addison McCool told HuffPost that Statler is different from the other two residents of the "geribatric ward," Chessie and Starlie, who mostly enjoy keeping to themselves and focusing on eating and sleeping. Statler is "quite the special boy in that he really, really loves being with us and loves being around people."

A well-deserved retirement after a hard life

According to the Bat House Sanctuary website, Statler was rescued at the age of 31 when the small zoo where he had lived and been mistreated closed. In addition to his daily assisted flights, he also enjoys relaxing in a hammock and gets "warm facials and gentle brushes" along with his arthritis medicine. The sanctuary has other Statler videos available on YouTube for those of us who need more wholesome "geribatric" footage, including scenes from his 33rd birthday party at which he enjoyed a festive goblet of juice and his own "birthday cake" made of fresh fruit while casually lounging upside down from his hammock. 

There's even a video devoted to his arrival at the sanctuary — poor Statler's toenails were so long he had trouble moving and needed a very gentle yet thorough pedicure. He was prone to falling while hanging upside down and was moved to a small enclosure to recuperate. He soon learned that if he rang the bells placed nearby for "enrichment," people would bring him snacks. This naturally led to constant bell-ringing, because who wouldn't use a snack-summoning bell if given the opportunity? Today, Statler has his own "treehouse" where he rests at night, enjoying the fruit kabobs hanging nearby and looking at his fellow bats without danger of falling. Enjoy your retirement, Statler! You've earned it!