On spring and summer evenings, just after sunset, the skies of Gainesville, Florida, U.S., fill with bats.
That’s when 450,000 bats take off from the University of Florida’s bat barns—said to be the world’s largest occupied bat houses. It’s something of a campus tradition to witness the nightly bat emergence, and in 2019, that led the university’s advancement team to let a quirky idea take flight. UF invited donors to make a gift and “name” a bat.
In a 2017 brainstorming meeting on naming opportunities, bats came up—and “we knew we had the winner,” says Nicole Neal, executive director of strategic communication at UF advancement. “The bats are a special part of our campus and naming them was just ridiculous enough to work.”