Bat Conservation International suggested that members who are concerned about a widely publicized bat-swatting incident at a San Antonio Spurs pro basketball game Saturday night might consider contacting the NBA or the San Antonio Spurs to request a statement about the value of bats. We had received a number of emails from BCI members who were troubled by the publicity.
The goal of this request was never to punish Manu Ginobili, who had knocked the errant bat to the floor of the arena, but to encourage the Spurs and the media to send an important educational message to the public: a bat should never be touched with bare hands. In fact, Ginobili is being treated with rabies vaccines because there is no way to determine whether the bat, which was released, had rabies.
The incident, and subsequent media chatter about “blood-sucker” bats, also provided a great opportunity to educate the public about the benefits of bats and to dispel some of the harmful myths about them. The heavy media attention – and frequent misinformation – virtually forced BCI to respond in hopes of setting the record straight. We do not want children thinking they can touch bats or that it’s cool to do so.
Ginobili, incidentally, has posted an laudatory update on his Facebook page:
“Just wanted to give you guys an update on the bat situation. As many of you already know, it wasn't a great idea. Not only for the fact that bats are great part of the ecosystem, but also because some carry rabies, which is an incurable disease. That's why I had to get vaccinated today (and it wasn't just one shot). Only 0.5% to 3% of the bat populations carry the disease, but if you can't find the animal, it's not recommended to take any risks [because] it can kill you! Since after the incident, the usher took it outside and the bat flew away (not lying!), there was no way of knowing if he was infected or not, so I had to do the safe thing.
Finally, please, don't do it at home or anywhere; avoid contact with bats, skunks, raccoons, rats and animals like that.”
Here is the original email sent by BCI after the media attention began:
Thanks to all the BCI members who wrote in response to Manu Ginobili’s incorrect handling of a bat during the San Antonio Spurs game on Saturday, October 31st. Ginobili swatted the bat out of the air with his bare hand and carried it off the court. We are unsure of whether the bat was killed or what happened afterward.
As BCI members, you know this could have been handled better. Bats are important to our ecosystem and should never be touched with a bare hand. There are much safer and humane ways to remove a bat in a building. Making matters worse, much of the press used misinformed descriptions of bats such as “blood suckers,” perpetuating incorrect myths about bats.
If you’d like to do something about Ginobili’s behavior, contact the NBA and the Spurs asking for a statement about the value of bats or to have the Spurs players educated by BCI. Write the NBA at http://www.nba.com/email_us/contact_us.html and use the general comments box; email the Spurs at http://www.nba.com/spurs/news/club_directory.html and use the “other” subject line.
As always, thanks for your support!