International Year of the Bat:
It couldn't have been more appropriate for U-Haul to reveal its newest SuperGraphic image representing the state of Missouri in October 2011, featuring bat language and echolocation while showcasing the image of a red bat, since 2011-2012 was named the "Year of the Bat." Since bats play such an extremely important role in today's ecosystem, yet are so widely misunderstood, the United Nations declared that 2011-2012 be named the International Year of the Bat, and BCI came on board as the founding partner. Dr. Tuttle, honorary ambassador of the 2011-2012 Year of the Bat, explains that education in regard to the essential roles in which bats play in maintaining healthy ecosystems and human economies never has been more important than it is now. Activities, not just in North America at places like BCI or the Organization for Bat Conservation's Bat Zone, but around the world in places like Latin America, the Pacific, Asia and Africa, were arranged and held with the hope of increasing worldwide awareness about bats. Tuttle explained that simply because bats are active only at night and are extremely difficult to observe, it does not mean that they have to remain among the planet's most misunderstood and intensely persecuted mammals.
Visiting Onondaga Cave State Park:
Missouri's natural beauty doesn't just lie above ground. Beneath its surface are more than 6,400 caves and some of the state's most scenic natural wonders. Volcanic activity plus weather and water created a karst topography, which is characterized by sinkholes, underground streams and caverns. Some of the finest caverns in the state can be found at Onondaga Cave State Park.
Twins. Photograph Courtesy of Onondaga Cave State Park.
Onondaga Cave features an interpretive center and educational programs presented by a staff of interpretive naturalists. Warm summer evenings feature bat walks, complete with bat detectors, where visitors can hear bats using echolocation, their ultrasonic coded language.
Queens Canopy. Photograph Courtesy of Onondaga Cave State Park.
These clicking sounds, not normally heard by the adult human ear, are utilized by bats in an attempt to locate food each evening. That food, the infamous mosquito, is the main insect they search for in the night sky, about 1,000-3,000 per night per bat, to be exact.
Lily Pad Room. Photograph Courtesy of Onondaga Cave State Park.
Onondaga's naturalists are available throughout the spring and summer months, hosting a variety of interpretive programs for visitors. The formats include nature hikes, evening amphitheater programs and visitor-center activities for schools and civic groups. Some of the many themes they utilize are Bats, Caves, Missouri Geology, Habitats, Ozark Hellbenders, Black Bears in Missouri, Spring Wildflowers, Rocks and Minerals, and Snakes of Missouri. But of course, they are not just limited to those; there is a myraid of topics about Missouri's natural resources that can provide people with a wealth of subject matter to develop a specific theme. The naturalist staff is also available in the winter months for off-site programs for schools and civic groups as well.