ABILENE, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) – While the Mall of Abilene welcomed in a new wave of guests with a couple of new businesses, the mall also hosted some unwanted guests on Tuesday: Bats. A local wildlife rehab center said its team worked alongside Abilene Animal Services to capture the creatures.
“We were made aware a few days ago that there was an increase number of bats actually inside the mall. Normally, it is pup season, so you will see a lot more bats but due to the proximity to the public and being inside, it is a public health issue,” said Sam Townsend, Vice President of Big Country Wildlife Rehabilitation Center.
Several stores were forced to close its doors, including big locations like Ulta. In that time, seven bats were captured Tuesday evening.
“What we’re doing is we’re taking them into our rescue and we’re quarantining them,” Townsend explained of the capture process. “Once they are through quarantine, not showing signs of any kind of illness, we are vaccinating them and releasing them back into the wild.”
However, the capture teams told KTAB/KRBC they did end up having to send some bats away because they were showing signs of illness.
“We have sent a few bats that were exhibiting some weird signs of illness up to be tested. We do not have any results yet, but once those results have been received the public will be made aware,” assured Townsend.
The wildlife rehab center said this is a normal time of year for sighting a few bats here and there.
“It’s pup season, so they’re trying to find a place to raise their young and, obviously with the heat, I imagine it’s a lot cooler at the mall,” Townsend reasoned.
Even though seven were caught on Tuesday, there’s been no word on exactly how long it might take to remove all the bats. Townsend said it is a priority to work quickly to remove them. In the meantime, if you see any bats or any wild animal, you’re encouraged to keep your distance.
“[Rabies] is spread through saliva. So, if you have an open cut on your hand and you touched an animal that could possibly have rabies, they could have licked themselves and you can get contaminated that way,” added Townsend.
KTAB/KRBC has reached out to the Mall of Abilene for further comment, but they had not responded before publication or airtime.