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Wild discount bats found in Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo

OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) – Dozens of people who spent the night at Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium during a series of camps last weekend are heading for a round of rabies shots following a potential exposure at recent overnight events.

“On Sunday, July 4, a guest reported to the campout leader that she woke up and noticed a wild bat near her head,” it said in Friday’s release from the zoo.

No scratches or bite marks were found on the woman, but zoo workers rounded and seven wild bats inside the Scott Aquarium, where a series of campaigns were held overnight over the weekend.

The bats were sent for rabies testing to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln̵

7;s Veterinary Diagnostic Center, and the Douglas County Health Department was notified of the potential exposure.

The zoo revealed late Wednesday that one of the bats tested positive for rabies, according to the release.

As a result, the 186 guests and some zoological staff who were present at the overnight events on 29-30. June and the 2-3. July, sent a letter informing them of their potential exposure to rabies and recommended, based on CDC guidelines, that they get rabies shots.

“Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium offers these guests a refund for their event and provides information on how to receive the prophylaxis after exposure at the Zoo’s expense,” the release states.

Zoo crews also spent the last few days looking for breaches or access points and evidence of prolonged bat roasting.

Dr. Sarah Woodhouse, director of animal health at the zoo, said the bats were probably “small brown bats,” which is a species common in Nebraska.

“To be clear, this was a wild bat that came into the aquarium and not a bat from the zoo,” says the zoo.

The zoo plans to continue their camping overnight at other zoos until they are sure the bats have been removed, the access point corrected, and there have been “a whole week of overnight observations with no bats present.”

Henry Doorly officials said those who have visited the zoo during normal opening hours need not worry about any potential exposure, but noted that rabies infections are common in wild bats.

“We want to assure our guests who have visited the aquarium during the day that there is no reason to worry about the healthy bat. Bats are nocturnal and are therefore not active – or awake – during the Zoo’s normal operating hours, “said Dr. Woodhouse in the release.

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