In this Skunk Bear episode, Adam Cole travels to ‘bat paradise’ (also known as the country of Panama) to meet with May Dixon and Dr. Gerry Carter of the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute. There he gets a close look at some helpful insect-eating and flower-pollinating bats. He also gets to see some vampire bats, fuzzy little creatures that local ranchers have been at odds with for generations. From NPR:
In Latin America, vampire bats drink the blood of livestock. Very rarely, these bats contract rabies. Before they die, they can spread the deadly virus to pigs, chickens, cows — and even humans. The disease costs farmers in Latin America $30 million every year and kills dozens of people. In March of this year, a man in Brazil reportedly died of rabies after being bitten by a vampire bat.
Ranchers, whose livelihoods are threatened, want the government to wipe out this threat. But is extermination the best course of action? Would the world be better without vampire bats? Is there anything that makes them worth saving?
See what you think after watching Vampire Bats: Bloodthirsty … and Cuddly.