Image: Tanner, a golden bat
Raymond Holt  /  Organization for Bat Conservation
Tanner, the oldest bat of his kind in captivity, will spend his birthday hanging around. Golden bats live about 20 years in the wild.
updated 12/29/2008 10:13:28 AM ET 2008-12-29T15:13:28

Tanner the golden bat, the oldest of his kind in captivity, will celebrate his 23rd birthday by hanging around and chomping on a few pieces of papaya, mango and melon.

Officials marked the occasion Friday at the Cranbrook Institute.

"He's in good health. He's retired," Organization for Bat Conservation director Rob Mies said.

By his species' standards Tanner is a senior citizen.

Only about 4,000 of the large, fruit-eating bats still live on tiny Rodrigues Island in the Indian Ocean. They live about 20 years in the wild, Mies said.

Tanner had been the second oldest of the 1,000 or so golden bats in captivity until a few months ago when a 23-year-old female died at Chicago's Brookfield Zoo. He's also three years older than others in captivity.

Their ages are confirmed because each of the captive bats are registered worldwide, Mies said.

Called golden because of their reddish-blond fur, Tanner and his ilk also are known as golden flying foxes and are among the largest bats in the world.

Tanner has a 4-foot (1.22-meter) wingspan and weighs about a pound, but no longer flies due to a wing injury.

The nonprofit Organization for Bat Conservation researches and educates the public about bats. Its Bat Zone at Cranbrook is home to more than 100 bats from around the world.

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