A moviegoer released a live bat at a recent showing of "The Batman" in Austin, Texas — forcing theater employees to interrupt the movie as animal control officers tried to remove the flying mammal from the premises.
The incident occurred Friday at the Moviehouse & Eatery by Cinépolis in northwest Austin, according to the Austin Animal Center.
Annelise Holyoak, the director of marketing and communications for Cinépolis, confirmed in a statement Wednesday: "Unfortunately a guest tried to pull a prank at one of our locations. Local animal control was immediately contacted, and they oversaw the situation to ensure guest, associate and animal safety."
The bat flew out of an emergency exit door and was no longer in the building. Holyoak said all moviegoers were offered full refunds but that the majority “opted to stay and finish the film.”
The theater will implement extra security measures, such as checking bags upon guest entry, Holyoak added.
The Austin Animal Center said: “An officer responded but was unable to locate the bat. The officer educated moviegoers about contacting Animal Protection if they believe they were exposed to the bat.”
The bat could be seen flying across the movie screen in a video shared Saturday on Twitter.
Another video showed an employee trying to get the bat out of its hiding spot.
“I’m going to turn all these lights off and try and get it to go into this lighted area," an employee can be heard saying in the video. "If you are uncomfortable being in the dark with a bat, please remove yourself now.”
Mark Sloat, a manager for the Austin Animal Center, said the agency takes "rabies exposure very seriously." Travis County, where part of Austin is located, had the highest rate of positive rabies results in bats in Texas.
“Bats have tiny teeth, so someone might not even know they were bitten. We want people to understand that rabies is no joke," he said. "Anyone who finds a grounded bat should not handle it and should instead call their local animal control agency."