National Geographic : 1986 Apr
On Assignment THERE REALLY IS a batman, and his name is Merlin D. Tuttle. Though he wears no mask, Tuttle is a crusader. As head of Bat Conservation International, he travels the world to fight persecution of these fascinating animals. "Flying fox bats are valu able, gentle creatures and easi ly trained," says Tuttle, feeding a friend in a hotel room in Kenya (above). Responding to his command, the bats would not eat until he set the camera and whistled. The scent of fruit, transferred by his fingers to the camera lens, draws a visitor (right). This zoologist's fascination with bats began during his youth in Tennessee, when he found that a group of gray bats, thought to be nonmigratory, occupied a cave only in the spring and fall. His proof that the bats were migratory later formed the basis of his doctoral thesis at the University of Kansas. Author and photog rapher of NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC'S article on frog-eating bats (January 1982), Tuttle most recently visited the South Pacific to study endangered Samoan flying foxes.