ROBERT WALTON, BE’68
Bob Walton and his wife, Ann Petry Walton, MA’65, have a bat hospital in their dining room. They’ve had as many as 140 patients at one time—all with names.
“You can tell them apart from their personalities,” says the retired electrical engineer. “Naming them makes us feel a bit more connected. Often the people who find them name them. Many are named after mothers-in-law.”
The Waltons have run a bat rescue and rehabilitation operation from their Huntertown, Ind., home for eight years. Their dining-room hospital is step one in the rehab process for injured bats. Each bat has its own aquarium and is nursed back to health through a special mealworm diet. Those that become well enough are released back into the wild.
So far the Waltons have rescued 764 displaced, injured and orphaned bats, and 588 have been released. They spend more than $5,000 of their own money each year to run the program.
Bats, the only flying mammals, can live up to 34 years and contribute considerably to the environment. In fact, one small brown bat can eat 1,200 mosquitoes in an hour.
Bob is doing his part to educate the public about the importance of bats, with innumerable speaking engagements at schools, nature centers, conventions and Earth Day celebrations.
“We need to take the time to learn about their value,” he says. “Don’t get hung up on the myths. They wouldn’t exist if they didn’t provide benefits to our lives.”
© 2015 Vanderbilt University | Photography: Clint Keller/The Journal Gazette, Fort Wayne, Ind.
Conversation guidelines: Vanderbilt Magazine welcomes your thoughts, stories and information related to this article. Please stay on topic and be respectful of others. Keep the conversation appropriate for interested readers across the map.