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The Daring Rescue Of A Rare, Elusive Bat

Hosts Mary Louise Kelly and Ari Shapiro tell the story of a rare bat found trapped in the Museum of English Rural Life, and its rehabilitation by a bat-loving museum volunteer.


Now we bring you the story of a daring rescue. It starts inside The Museum of English Rural Life at the University of Reading.


It was just before Christmas in the museum’s rare book archive when something moved.

ADAM KOSZARY: Someone first spotted it and though, that’s a big spider and then realized that’s a bat.

SHAPIRO: A bat – Adam Koszary runs the Twitter account for the museum. He tweeted about the bat saga yesterday. More than 20,000 people have liked it so far.

KELLY: OK, before we tell you all about the bat – a quick note about The Museum of English Rural Life’s Twitter feed. It is a phenomenon. Koszary has amassed 109,000 followers whom he delights with sarcastic, dark, sometimes profane tweets about the museum’s archives and, in the case of this thread, their rare book collection.

KOSZARY: It’s a treasure trove full of lovely, lovely books. But what’s not a book is a bat. Bats can’t even get library cards.

SHAPIRO: OK, the museum’s first move – call the national bat hotline. There is one. They suggested Rose-Ann Movsovic could help. She is a local bat enthusiast.

ROSE-ANN MOVSOVIC: Went on a public bat walk about 12, 15 years ago with my partner and have never really looked back.

SHAPIRO: And as luck would have it, she was also familiar with The Museum of English Rural Life because she volunteers there.

KELLY: So when Movsovic arrived, museum staff had put the bat in a box.

MOVSOVIC: We opened the box up, and my first thought was that it was quite big. It looked big enough to be a Nathusius’ pipistrelle.

KELLY: Now, that is a rare and elusive kind of bat that has only showed up in Britain in the last few years. Movsovic and her bat group go out searching for them. Now fate had brought one right to her.

SHAPIRO: So she took it home where she is currently rehabilitating 10 other bats, and there she confirmed it was in fact this rare species. She made the confirmation by looking between its legs.

MOVSOVIC: The penis of a Nathusius’ pipistrelle is described as looking like a tiny albino hedgehog ’cause it has little white hairs on it.

SHAPIRO: Today, I learned. And if you really must see for yourself, this is part of the museum’s Twitter thread about the whole story – #NotSafeForWork.

KELLY: The things you learn. Movsovic gave the bat a name, Merlin. That’s a nod to the acronym of The Museum of English Rural Life. She has now coaxed him back to health.

MOVSOVIC: I’m going to give him another test flight tonight. Then I am planning to release him Wednesday or Thursday night this week, and hopefully he’ll find a more sensible place to spend the rest of the winter.

KELLY: Well, wherever Merlin spends the rest of winter, he can always come back to the archive. Today the museum tweeted out a picture of Merlin’s very own library card.

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