Hannibal’s first bat festival will be April 17, in celebration of National Bat Appreciation Day. Events are planned during the day at Admiral Coontz Recreation Center with sunset activities at Sodalis Nature Preserve.

Hannibal recently became “Bat Headquarters” in the Midwest, due to the discovery of one-third of all known endangered Indiana bats. The bats, (their scientific name is Myotis sodalis) hibernate in a former limestone mine that closed a half-century ago. Sodalis Nature Preserve is now Hannibal’s second-largest park.

Hannibal Bat Festival is an educational and awareness-building event hosted by U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and Hannibal Parks & Recreation.

Programs at Admiral Coontz Recreation Center April 17 are:

  • 3 p.m. Urban Bat Preservation, Missouri Bat Census
  • 4 p.m. Bat Conservation,S. Forest Service
  • 5 p.m. Bats of Missouri,S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Missouri Department of Conservation

There will be exhibitors and booths with family friendly activities and information, including Inflatable Bat Cave Experience by Missouri Department of Natural Resources and booths by Missouri Bat Census, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Hannibal Parks & Recreation, Mark Twain Cave Complex and others.

At sunset there will be a bat emergence viewing and sneak peek at Sodalis Nature Preserve. Anyone interested must meet at 6:30 p.m. at the Sodalis parking lot, 700 Ely St. and are encouraged to bring flashlights and appropriate footwear. There will be demonstrations of  acoustic bat detectors and thermal and infrared cameras used for the study of bats at sunset at the Sodalis Amphitheater. It will be about a 11/2 mile-roundtrip walk.

For more information call 573-221-0177 Extension 212.