There are lots of land mammals native to the United States, from tiny mice to giant moose. But the island of New Zealand has only two native land mammals, and they’re both bats! (Humans later brought other mammals like sheep, cats, and dogs to the island, but they’re not native.) One of these species, the short-tailed bat, has been successfully bred for the first time at the Auckland Zoo. And not just one baby bat has been born—they’re twins!
The twin bat pups, a boy and a girl, started life at just 4 grams each—around the weight of a small coin. Their mother wasn’t able to properly look after them, but the zookeepers took excellent care of them, keeping them warm and feeding them every four hours. The bats are now a healthy adult weight of around 14 grams (still only about half an ounce—these bats don’t weigh much).
Breeding programs can help threatened and endangered species like short-tailed bats so that they’re around for a long time. And helping one species winds up helping the other plants and animals that they live with in the wild. For example, short-tailed bats are the only pollinators of a rare New Zealand plant called the woodrose, so helping these bats helps these plants too. What other connections can you find between different living things?

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