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Wednesday, 27 June, 2001, 15:05 GMT 16:05 UK
Wind tunnel helps bat preservation
Bat
To survive injured bats must rediscover how to fly
A revolutionary wind tunnel developed by conservationists could save the lives of up to 3,000 injured bats a year.

The tunnel re-creates flying conditions for the mammals so they can regain their strength before being released back into the wild.

Most injured bats which are nursed back to full health die after being released because they are unable fly properly.

Conservationists hope the wind tunnel will help prevent the endangered species from dying out.

Improved survival

Ray Jackson, manager of the Lower Moss Wood Wildlife Hospital near Knutsford, Cheshire said: "The tunnel recreates as close as we can the environment of flying for bats, I'm over the moon with the results."

Bat
The wind tunnel mimics flying conditions for the bat
The tunnel is made of smooth plastic so the mammals cannot find a foothold where they could rest.

An extractor fan recreates wind in the corridor and internal ledges have been included forcing the bats to navigate around the obstacles.

"This a major step forward in bat conservation and means bats returned to the wild will have a far greater chance of survival," added Mr Jackson.

Prototype

The 12ft tunnel is a prototype but it is hoped a fully developed model will become the standard home for helping injured animals return to their habitat.

Trying to teach bats that have recovered from injury to fly is almost impossible.

Mr Jackson said: "If they're released inside, bats just cling on to the nearest object and won't fly.

We've managed to get bats to fly for up to 20 minutes without resting which significantly improves their survival."

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