Bat Appreciation Day took a controversial turn this year. People are blaming the flying critters for the coronavirus pandemic and calling for the day to be canceled.
Started by Bat Conservation International, Bat Appreciation Day was designed to reverse the negative image of bats as rabies-spreading monsters and to raise awareness of their importance to the ecosystem.
While bats may have played a role at some point in the evolution of this particular strain of coronavirus, the mythical “bat soup” allegedly purchased from the Wuhan wet market is not the vector for the virus’ leap from animals to humans. Six out of ten human diseases originate in the animal kingdom, passing through multiple species before reaching a point where they can infect us. Additionally, while most of the original cases could be traced back to the wet market, several had no connection whatsoever, suggesting an alternative original source. Not that this has stopped Twitter, where hatred of bats is mingling with the now predictable racism against Chinese people.
However, there are also those who appreciate bats for their role as pollinators and pest controllers, and for being stinking cute.