Lubee Bat Conservancy, a 110-acre ranch in Gainesville that’s home to several bat species, opened its doors Saturday for the 12th annual Florida Bat Festival.
Visitors flooded the conservancy, moving from crafts and animal exhibits to games and the picnic area. The melody of live didgeridoos and the smell of empanadas and spring rolls filled the air.
Another attraction: bats eating flowers and pumpkin sculptures, and letting out their distinctive shrill sounds.
The main goal of this year’s Florida Bat Festival was education. The organizers prepared expert presentations to educate visitors about the significance of fruit bats and how they benefit environments and ecosystems.
Critter Creek Farm Sanctuary, the largest bovine farm sanctuary in the country, is a place where animal families find their forever homes. The Gainesville sanctuary was started by Erin and Chris Amerman and has 161 cows, 22 pigs, 10 donkeys, 10 horses, three water buffalo, two turkeys and one bison.