SA Zoo Welcomes Flying Foxes Back After Decades
By Ron Aaron Eisenberg
Look up in the sky; it’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s a fox. Or rather, it’s a species of bat known as a large flying fox or Malayan Flying Fox.
San Antonio Zoo recently announced the arrival of a group of the flying foxes, marking their return to the Zoo for the first time since the 1980s. The fascinating and endangered species are making their new home at San Antonio Zoo after being relocated from Zoo Tampa.
In a news release touting the new Flying Foxes, SA Zoo wrote the group consists of 7 males and 11 females, each with unique names that reflect their individuality and charm. Among the females are Stella, Esther, Ady, Penny, Leila, Rosa, Jasmine, Marla, Sweet Pea, Fern, and Snapdragon. The males are named Rufio, Bruce, Guapo, Homer, Count, Mickey, and Yoda.
The Zoo noted that the foxes are native to Southeast Asia; the Malayan Flying Fox is one of the largest bat species in the world, boasting an impressive wingspan of up to 5 ½ feet wide and an average weight of 2 pounds. These magnificent creatures play a crucial role as seed dispersers and pollinators of forest trees, feeding on flowers, nectar, and fruit.
In addition, the Zoo added the Malayan Flying Fox is classified as endangered on the IUCN Red List, emphasizing the importance of their presence in zoos for conservation and education purposes. The head of the species resembles that of a small fox, with distinct features such as long and pointed ears and sharp curved claws—additionally, the large, well-developed eyes of the Flying Fox aid in their flight navigation.