To the Editor:
April 17 is International Bat Appreciation Day, and it could not come soon enough. We need to celebrate these intelligent, beneficial animals, and defend them from COVID-19 scapegoating.
Bats hold an important title—the only mammal who can fly—but do so much for humankind. Bats help with pollination and seed dispersal for food plants like agave—without them, there is no tequila!—and their droppings are a valuable crop fertilizer.
Bats are social animals, with long-term friends in different colonies, who they will visit for multi-day trips. Bat mothers are loving and attentive, flying wing-to-wing with their children at night. They even set up “reunion” locations in case they and their children become separated.
We still do not know the specific source of coronavirus, but we should not be blaming bats for a crisis created by humans. Human agriculture is delving ever-deeper into wild landscapes, razing forestry to build feedlots, where animals are confined and killed for their flesh. These packed, filthy lots are breeding grounds for new diseases, such as swine flu and avian flu. Animal markets—where various animals are held captive in close confines—further promote the spread of viruses between species.
We can appreciate bats this month and into the future, by refusing to support industries that breed pandemics. Go vegan today.
The PETA Foundation