Bat City USA is a compelling documentary about how a city overcame its fear of one of the world's most misunderstood creatures and now heartily embraces them, largely thanks to the efforts of one man.
A giant colony of Mexican Free-tailed bats moved into an Austin, Texas bridge in the 1980’s after a reconstruction project created an ideal roosting habitat. The “bat invasion” launched a media hoopla and alarm among residents worried about bat attacks and rabies. When the city threatened to exterminate the bats, a zealous conservationist named Merlin Tuttle stepped in and fought to save them. Tuttle, a bat researcher at a Milwaukee museum, moved to Austin, which he called the epicenter of “worldwide bad bat publicity”, and founded Bat Conservation International to promote a positive image of bats.
To overcome local opposition, he worked tirelessly to change public perception of the bats—from scary disease carriers to desirable creatures who help keep moths and mosquitos in check, among other environmental benefits. As a pioneering bat photographer whose images were published in National Geographic, Tuttle used his striking photos as one important weapon in his battle for the bats.
Thanks to Tutttle’s efforts, Austin now loves its bats. Thousands of tourists annually are drawn to the downtown setting for a fascinating, close-up glimpse of the world’s largest urban bat colony – nearly one million bats.
Reviews & Awards"Editor's Choice. Highly Recommended. It is inspiring to observe how one man, through meticulous observation and study over a long period of his life, could have a profound effect on whether bats live or die by educating the public. Excellent for all age groups. It has great music, a compelling story and beautiful photography."
- Science Books and Films (AAAS)
"Highly Recommended. Bat City USA is a delightful documentary... A testament to the great environmental benefits that can result from having an informed citizenry."
– Educational Media Reviews Online
"Part study of the bats of Austin, Texas, part tribute to the research and activism of bat enthusiast Merlin Tuttle, the film shows how despised animals often improve human life and how humans and animals can live together and benefit from each other. May we hope that other Tuttles emerge to help save the other threatened creatures of the planet."
–Anthropology Review Database
“Laura Brooks has created a compelling, richly informative film – every bit as rare and wondrous as the flying mammals that fill its frames.”
– Doug Kreutz, Environmental Reporter, Tucson, AZ
“Bat City, USA is the story of a gifted and passionate scientist who overcame ridicule and rejection to single-handedly save a city’s huge bat colony. In doing so, he transformed the city’s perception of the bat from a menace to a beloved icon.”
– John Kerr, Writer, Austin, TX