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Going 'Loco' For Mexican Free-tailed Bats In Downtown San Antonio

A nightly downtown event is both one of the city's most remarkable and one of its least known. During the warm months, if you look skyward at I-35 and Camden Streets, a certain sight will take your breath away.

"We suspect it'll be between 7 and 8 o'clock, but they'll fly out when they want to; they're wild animals," San Antonio River Authority's Matthew Driffell says about 50,000 Mexican free-tailed bats, which emerge nightly. But what you don't see makes them even more noteworthy.

"They can eat their weight in insects every night," he says. "They provide huge, huge financial benefits to farmers in South Texas through the insects that they consume every night." 

They also pollinate several plants, including blue agave, which Driffell says means a lot to some folks.

"If anybody out there likes to drink margaritas or tequila, you really have bats to thank for that," he says.

To bring attention to the bats and their contribution, SARA created the family friend event called the Bat Loco Bash four years ago.  This year's event takes place on Tuesday, August 8th, co-sponsored by the Texas Parks and Wildlife, and Bat Conservation International.  

"Starting at 6 o'clock we'll have all the music, vendors and food trucks will be serving and ready to go.  An ice cream food truck, some frozen lemonade, and some other cool treats, because it's probably going to be pretty toasty in August," Driffell says.  "You can get some pictures with the official 1966 Batmobile, the Batman of San Antonio, a lot of fun things for everybody to enjoy, and then learn about, and see the bats fly out."

The Camden Street Bridge will be closed so traffic is not a factor. This is also the location where two of the most popular and largest art installations from the Museum Reach project are located.

"From the bridge you will be able to see both the famous Grotto from local artist Carlos Cortes, as well as the glowing F.I.S.H. underneath  I-35, so bring your cameras," Driffell says.

Those lit-from-within -F.I.S.H. and the walk-through Grotto, with waterfalls and faces embedded in the concrete, amaze young and old.

Find more on the Bat Loco Bash here.    


Jack Morgan can be reached at jack@tpr.org and on Twitter at @JackMorganii