What has big ears and soft fur and will be greeting children at the White House Easter Egg Roll today?
A giant bat, of course.
Instead of the petting zoos of years past, Kamilah, a Malayan flying fox, will be hanging out — or, rather, hanging upside-down — off Rob Mies. As Kamilah’s spokesman and the executive director of the Organization for Bat Conservation, Mies will explain bats’ role in the ecosystem.
“Bats are important pollinators of bananas and avocados, the cacao plant, which we make chocolate from, and even the agave plant, which we make tequila from,” Mies says.
Kamilah is just the bat for the job, Mies says: She’s outgoing, charismatic and loves people. However, like most bats, she is nocturnal.
“She can be a little groggy in the morning, and we have to be at the White House at 4:30 a.m. to go through security and be sniffed by police dogs,” Mies says. “I wish I could give her a little cup of coffee or something.”
When people see Kamilah’s 5-foot wingspan and cute, pointy face, they are often “shocked but not scared,” Mies says. Plus, the giant bat is a good role model for Michelle Obama’s healthy eating initiative, as she mostly eats fruit.
Some 35,000 children and adults will gather on the White House’s South Lawn today for this year’s Easter Egg roll. (Tickets are free and were distributed online through a lottery, which is now closed.)
The tradition dates back to 1878, when Congress kicked would-be egg rollers off of their lawn and President Rutherford B. Hayes invited them to the White House instead. President Jimmy Carter introduced a petting zoo in 1977, which included a 1,200-pound steer named Big Red.
Kamilah, however, will be the best animal attraction yet, Mies says.
“I think kids will be more intrigued by the bat than an Easter bunny — unless that bunny is hopping around with a basket full of chocolates,” he says.
More local news from Express: