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Some background on Mauritius

By Tim Georoff, Associate Veterinarian

Very privileged and honored to represent the Philadelphia Zoo on a trip to Mauritius to accompany 30 captive Rodrigues fruit bats back to the Zoo. The Republic of Mauritius is an island nation located about 1200 miles off the southeast coast of the African continent in the Indian Ocean, which includes the principal island of Mauritius, Rodrigues (the only home of the Rodrigues fruit bat), and several smaller outlying islands and archipelagos. The island of Mauritius is about the same size as the Hawaiian island of Maui. Mauritius itself is a cultural melting pot with influences from the African continent, India, and China, as well as the Dutch, French, and British, due to their prior colonial rule. The island has developed a unique culture because of this.
 
Mauritius is also home to many unique island endemic species. Mauritius was the only home of the dodo, a large flightless relative of the pigeon, which became extinct in the late 1600s due to human exploitation and influence of introduced species. The dodo has become a symbol of species extinction and was used in our own Philadelphia Zoo X*Tink*Shun puppet shows for that same reason. Images of the dodo are all over the island marketed to tourists as a unique symbol of Mauritius but also serve as a reminder of the gravity of species extinction and the importance of the role that zoos and conservation organizations serve in preserving current endangered species.
 
This is my first time visiting the island. I'm looking forward to learning more about the Mauritian Wildlife Foundation projects, the bats, and the zoos support of conservation work on the islands. Both Kim Lengel (the Zoo’s Vice President for Conservation and Education who was been involved with conservation efforts in Mauritius and Rodrigues for many years) and I finally arrived after about 20 hours of flight time. Tomorrow is our flight to Rodrigues.

map of mauritius
Poster of the island of Mauritius

Some background on Mauritius

By Tim Georoff, Zoo Veteranarian

Very privileged and honored to represent the Philadelphia Zoo on a trip to Mauritius to accompany 30 captive Rodrigues fruit bats back to the Zoo. The Republic of Mauritius is an island nation located about 1200 miles off the southeast coast of the African continent in the Indian Ocean, which includes the principal island of Mauritius, Rodrigues (the only home of the Rodrigues fruit bat), and several smaller outlying islands and archipelagos. The island of Mauritius is about the same size as the Hawaiian island of Maui. Mauritius itself is a cultural melting pot with influences from the African continent, India, and China, as well as the Dutch, French, and British, due to their prior colonial rule. The island has developed a unique culture because of this.
 
Mauritius is also home to many unique island endemic species in addition to the bats which have been the subject of important conservation, captive propagation, and reintroduction work over the past 40 years. Mauritius was the only home of the dodo, a large flightless relative of the pigeon, which became extinct in the late 1600s due to human exploitation and influence of introduced species. The dodo has become a symbol of species extinction and was used in our own Philadelphia Zoo X*Tink*Shun puppet shows for that same reason. Images of the dodo are all over the island marketed to tourists as a unique symbol of Mauritius but also serve as a reminder of the gravity of species extinction and the importance of the role that zoos and conservation organizations serve in preserving current endangered species.
 
This is my first time visiting the island. I'm looking forward to learning more about the Mauritian Wildlife Foundation projects, the bats, and the zoos support of conservation work on the islands. Both Kim Lengel (the Zoo’s Vice President for Conservation and Education who was been involved with conservation efforts in Mauritius and Rodrigues for many years) and I finally arrived after about 20 hours of flight time. Tomorrow is our flight to Rodrigues.