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Lindsay Wildlife Museum's
Masters of the Night: The True Story of Bats

1931 First Ave., Walnut Creek

Reviewed: 10/10/2004, The Hauntmistress

Having grown up in Concord, a short freeway drive away from Walnut Creek, I have fond memories of my dad taking me to the Lindsay Wildlife Museum. We used to "rent" rabbits for the weekend, much to my mom's dismay ("they smell!"). The Museum has expanded and improved tremendously throughout the years as we found out when we went to see their latest exhibit, Masters of the Night: The True Story of Bats.

The Museum is a wildlife rehabilitation and educational center that focuses on native California wildlife and natural history. The entrance fee gives you free roam of the Museum, not just the Bats exhibit.  Before getting our fill of the bats, we explored other parts of the museum. Among the offerings is an art exhibit, a crafts room for kids, and a museum store. But where we spent most of our time was with the animals.  

They have animals that have been rescued (they operate the oldest and one of the largest wildlife rehabilitation hospitals in the U.S) after being injured or orphaned because of intense urban growth and the loss of native habitat. They house these animals in nice homes behind glass, including opossums, squirrels, and mice.  Every now and then the Museum staff take certain animals out for the kids (and adults!) to pet. 

Rehabilitating owl at Lindsay MuseumThe Museum also has wonderful rescue birds sitting (tethered, of course) above the glass houses.  Most of the birds have been injured and cannot fly, but they take the ones that can fly out for recreation daily. It was wonderful to see these animals up close, as you often do not get that opportunity in nature.  The birds included a wonderful and huge Bald Eagle, a Great Gray Owl, a Turkey Vulture, and a Great Horned Owl.  The staff are very helpful and knowledgeable and will tell you all you want to know about the animals, how they came to the Museum, and their care while at the Museum.

Yellow-winged BatAfter visiting with the animals, we entered the Museum's small theater to hear the presentation about bats.  A staff member told us facts about bats and showed us two tiny bats and pictures of bigger ones. Unbeknownst to me, there are more than 1,000 species of bats and 13 of those are found in the Bay Area.  Unless you're a chicken (literally), and live in Central and South America, you don't have to worry about Vampire bats.  They typically drink the blood of chickens and cows after biting the ankles. It's actually more like licking the blood, but that doesn't sound very spooky!  Another misconception that was dispelled for us is that only .05 percent of bats actually carry rabies, and bats do not attack your head! More bat facts:

  • Bats belong to the order Chiroptera, which means "hand-wing", and they are the only true flying mammal.
  • Bats vary in size from ones that weigh less than a penny to ones that have a wingspan of nearly 6 feet!
  • Many bats use echolocation (sound waves) to find insects and to navigate. Their echolocation is so precise that they can avoid objects as thin as a human hair!

Greater Short-nosed Fruit BatAfter the presentation on bats, we headed downstairs to the main bats exhibit to see how and where they live and to try on huge bat ears to get a feeling for how the animals hear. The downstairs area is filled with interactive learning stations that will teach you all you've every wanted to know about bats including how they find prey, what they eat, how mother bats find their babies, and many of the common myths about bats.

In fact, the museum is filled with interactive exhibits that are perfect for kids because they allow them to get involved while learning, not simply sit and listen to facts. The bats exhibit runs through January, so you have plenty of time to go for a visit or two!

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When Sept. 25, 2004 - Jan. 4, 2005, Tue. - Fri., noon - 5 pm; Sat. - Sun., 10 am - 5 pm
Where Lindsay Wildlife Museum, 1931 First Ave., Walnut Creek
Admission $6 adults; $5 seniors 65+; $4 children 3-17; under 3 free
Contact www.wildlife-museum.org

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