Going batty: Lincoln Caverns to host its 11th annual Batfest

Lincoln Caverns is inviting the public to come out of hibernation for its 11th annual Batfest on Feb. 11. The day — full of events, education and crafts — is perfect for both bat connoisseurs and bat novices.

All ages are welcome to attend the event. Batfest includes a tour of Lincoln Caverns, currently celebrating its 85th anniversary. Guides will direct attendees through the turns of the cave to see the beauty of the sparkling crystals and stalactites.

In addition to cave excursions, there are sessions lined up to inform and educate about bats. Ann Dunlavy, president and general manager of Lincoln Caverns, hopes the day will be a fun way to create awareness about these tiny, furry mammals.

“We have lots of activities planned and guest speakers who will raise the understanding of bats,” Dunlavy said.

Among the guest speakers will be Clayton Lutz, wildlife diversity biologist from the Pennsylvania Game Commission, who will provide an update on White-Nose Syndrome (WNS), a fungus that is fatal to bats. He will talk about trying to decrease the impact of the disease, how WNS is diminishing the bat population and how bats are coping.

“People are becoming more aware of how special bats are and the need for them in our lives, especially for insect control. We want to educate about bats to help people learn more. White-Nose is a devastating disease; the [Game Commission’s] talk will demonstrate how important it is to protect the bats we have,” said Dunlavy.

Another presenter who will share insight about bats is Robyn Graboski, wildlife rehabilitator at Centre Wildlife Care. Graboski, who has been professionally rehabilitating animals since 1988, will bring with her Big Brown Betsy, a bat she has taken care of since Betsy was a baby.

“Betsy came to us when she was very tiny — only a few days old. Most of the bats we rehabilitate are released, but for some reason, she couldn’t fly well enough. She’s nine years old now, is friendly and accompanies me on most of my bat presentations,” Graboski said.

Graboski, who founded Centre Wildlife Care in 1995, will let attendees get an up-close view of Betsy. Graboski will also speak about how her center acquires bats, the rehabilitation they perform on bats and how they prepare bats to be released.

“I’ll also talk about the nine different species of bats in our state and about White-Nose and rabies. My presentation is focused on helping bats; promoting understanding and fostering tolerance because of the declining number of bats,” she said.

In addition to education about bats, there will be lunch, crafts and activities during Batfest. “We’ll build bathouses and raffle them off. There will be other crafts and games and story time for young children,” Dunlavy said.

A portion of the day’s proceeds are donated to Centre Wildlife Care. Dunlavy said, “Robyn [Graboski] does a tremendous amount of education for all animals. Her work is funded by donations; and she works very, very hard. She rehabs bats and all kinds of wildlife. We’re happy she comes to Batfest; she’s a special lady and what she does is very special.”

Graboski, who has attended Batfest for several years, is excited to share her knowledge about bats. She said, “I can’t say enough good things about this program. It educates people in a fun way; and the best type of education happens when there is fun involved.”

If you go

What: Batfest

When: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Feb. 11; Blizzard Date Feb. 12

Where: Lincoln Caverns

Admission: Adult tickets $24.98; Child tickets (ages 4-12) $22.98. Tickets include lunch and must be purchased in advance of the event.

Tickets and more information: Visit www.

lincolncaverns.com or call 643-0268


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