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Bats rescued behind mural of St. Francis

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Workers prepare to remove a mural of St. Francis from a home in Menlo Park, behind which 83 bats were discovered and rescued.

The Peninsula Humane Society and Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals rescued 83 bats that were found hiding behind a mural at a Menlo Park home Tuesday morning.

The homeowner hired workers to power-wash the side of the house when the workers removed a mural of St. Francis and found a large colony of bats that had been nesting behind the mural.

Workers called the PHS/SPCA when they noticed that the bats were falling to the ground. Worried about injuries the bats may have suffered, the veterinary staff was able to move them to their wildlife center for evaluation.

At the wildlife center, the bats received oxygen and were put into incubators to help with circulation and heighten body temperature. The bats were studied and determined to be Mexican free-tailed bats, which are native to California but have a declining population, PHS/SPCA officials said.

All 83 bats responded well to treatment and were medically cleared. They were then returned to the wild in Menlo Park on Tuesday night where they were originally rescued, but many flew back to the St. Francis mural.

“The irony of these bats being found behind a mural of the patron saint of animals is not lost on us,” PHS/SPCA spokeswoman Buffy Martin-Tarbox said in a statement. “We are grateful for the workers who alerted us to the bats.” This was the biggest number of bats the PHS/SPCA has ever received at one time. On average, they receive one bat a month, officials said.

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