Bat – The Demonized Chinese Bat

Date of publication
10.6. 2021.
Zagreb & Beijing
Translated by
Marta Ptičar
, , , ,

In the last couple of months, the whole world was affected by the glob­al pan­dem­ic of Covid-​19, which res­ul­ted in the emer­gence of dif­fer­ent pre­sump­tions, unfoun­ded news, post-​truths, and fake news. Among such, the news about the bat as the cul­prit for the spread of this vir­us and indir­ectly the Chinese diet as the cause of everything was in the lead. There are no proofs that val­id­i­fy the link between the bat – vir­us – human tri­angle, and, besides, patient zero has not yet been determ­ined (apart from Wuhan, there are indic­a­tions of earli­er infec­tions in Italy and the USA), nor has the source of infec­tion been iden­ti­fied. Besides bats, this vir­us can be found in oth­er anim­als such as camels, pan­golins, and it can even be found in humans. Therefore, cer­tain sci­ent­ists are revers­ing the situ­ation by present­ing the pos­sib­il­ity of the trans­mis­sion of the vir­us from humans to anim­als and, yet it is com­pletely “accept­able” to demon­ize the bat. In this respect, the authors will recall cer­tain his­tor­ic­al con­texts of bat per­cep­tions and exper­i­ences and their sim­il­ar­it­ies and dif­fer­ences dur­ing the pan­dem­ic, with par­tic­u­lar ref­er­ence to the Croatian and glob­al con­text. Finally, Nagel’s influ­en­tial art­icle “What Is It Like to Be a Bat?” from 1974 will be men­tioned in rela­tion to R. Safranski’s book How Much Globalization Can We Bear? as well as in rela­tion to the per­cep­tion of the demon­ized Chinese bat as a zoo sym­bol of the digit­al folk­lore about Chinese soup that appeared on numer­ous web portals dur­ing the Covid-​19 pan­dem­ic. Nagel’s art­icle tackles the essence of the prob­lem – the ques­tion of con­scious­ness (qualia). Namely, as much as we research, and even if we have all the inform­a­tion about the bat’s brain archi­tec­ture, we can­not know what the bat truly exper­i­ences dur­ing the pandemic.

In the end, the authors con­clude that the story about bats is, in fact, a great indic­at­or of the rep­res­ent­a­tions of Otherness and the strength­en­ing of the bin­ary and hier­arch­ic­al divi­sion between “us” and “them.”

Goran Đurđević: The bat in pop­u­lar cul­ture and in myth­o­lo­gies before Covid

Bats are fly­ing mam­mals. Their Greek name is Chiroptera. Physically, they are small, hairy anim­als with pata­gi­um, large mouths, strong jaws, and claws. These noc­turn­al anim­als live in colon­ies, they rest by roost­ing (hanging upside-​down), and they spend win­ters in hiberna­tion. Currently, there are more than 1300 spe­cies of bats, gen­er­ally divided into small and large bats. Around 30 of those spe­cies live in Europe.1“Šišmiši.” Hrvatska agen­cija za okoliš i pri­rodu, 22 Nov. 2017, Accessed 22 Sep. 2020. Their diet con­sists of fruits, mam­mali­an blood (most com­monly cattle), and insects (most of the bat spe­cies prey on insects).2“Netopiri.” Hrvatska encik­lo­pedija, mrežno izdan­je, 2021, Accessed 22 Sep. 2020. “Bats are an extremely import­ant part of the world’s eco­sys­tems – they are an import­ant seg­ment in the nat­ur­al renew­al of trop­ic­al forests, in the pol­lin­a­tion of a series of night-​blooming plants, and in the con­trol of a num­ber of noc­turn­al insects, and that makes them an indic­at­or of envir­on­ment­al health. They are one of the most per­se­cuted and least stud­ied anim­al spe­cies.”3“Šišmiši.” Hrvatska agen­cija za okoliš i pri­rodu, 22 Nov. 2017, Accessed 22 Sep. 2020.; “Netopiri.” Hrvatska encik­lo­pedija, mrežno izdan­je, 2021, Accessed 22 Sep. 2020.

Bats are import­ant act­ants in dif­fer­ent myth­o­lo­gies, among which Chinese, Pacific, and Central American myth­o­logy should be high­lighted. When it comes to Chinese myth­o­logy, bats have been asso­ci­ated with longev­ity and luck since the times of the Han dyn­asty. This con­nec­tion was pre­served dur­ing the later dyn­asties of the Chinese tra­di­tion, and artist­ic depic­tions of bats can be found in dif­fer­ent works of art, such as vases, where they are rep­res­en­ted togeth­er with oth­er motifs – plants, anim­als, and clouds. In addi­tion to the sym­bol­ic sim­il­ar­it­ies between bats and bless­ings, par­tic­u­lar inter­pret­a­tions asso­ci­ate bats with a less known, almost myth­o­lo­gic­al world, and their sud­den appear­ances are seen as sym­bols of luck or prosper­ity that comes out of nowhere.4Kunz, Thomas. “Halloween Treat: Bat Facts and Folklore.” The American Biology Teacher, vol. 46, no. 7, 1984, pp. 394 – 399.; Voon, Claire. “Why Chinese Art is Swarming with Colonies of Tiny Bats.” Hyperallergic, 24 Oct. 2017, Besides, bats are also pos­it­ively por­trayed in Pacific myth­o­logy, where they are asso­ci­ated with the Samoan prin­cess mar­ried in Tonga and later god­dess Leutogi. The story about the Samoan prin­cess says that, as part of a peace treaty between the two islands, the prin­cess came to Tonga, where she saved a baby bat. Soon after, she was accused of witch­craft and con­demned to death by burn­ing; how­ever, bats saved her by urin­at­ing on the fire. Afterward, she was trans­ferred to an isol­ated and unin­hab­ited island, but bats helped her again by bring­ing her food and keep­ing her com­pany. Because of that, the unin­hab­ited island became pop­u­lated and suit­able for life, which, in turn, cre­ated a way for Leutogi to become the god­dess of bats and fer­til­ity.5Barnes, Shawn S., and Terry L. Hunt. “Samoa’s Pre-​Contact Connections in West Polynesia and Beyond.” The Journal of the Polynesian Society, vol. 114, no. 3, pp. 227 – 266.; “Leutogi.” Wikipedia, 11 Apr. 2021,; Mageo, Jeannette. “Myth, Cultural Identity, and Ethnopolitics: Samoa and the Tongan ‘Empire.’” Journal of Anthropological Research, vol. 58, no. 4, 2002, pp. 493 – 520.

In Central American Mayan myth­o­logy, bats have an import­ant role in the world of the dead, which is vis­ible in the very name Camazotz that comes from kame, mean­ing “death,” and sotz, which means “bat.” According to Popol Vuh, the sac­red nar­rat­ive on the myth­o­logy of the Mayan people of Kiche, the twins and her­oes Hunahpu and Xbalanque came across bat-​like creatures in the Bat House while they were on their way to the Underworld. They were hid­ing in their weapon’s empty gun bar­rel, but Hunahpu peeked for a moment to see if the Sun has ris­en and paid a price for that: gods and the bat-​like creatures Camazotzes decide to use his head as a ball in a game they were play­ing.6Miller, Mary Ellen, and Karl Taube. An Illustrated Dictionary of the Gods and Symbols of Ancient Mexico and the Maya. Thames & Hudson, 1997.; Read, Kay Almere, and Jason González. Handbook of Mesoamerican Mythology. ABC-​CLIO, 2000.; “Camazotz.” Wikipedia, 14 Mar. 2021,

In Greco-​Roman cul­ture, bats are rep­res­en­ted as dual anim­als, half-​mice and half-​birds, or as light-​avoiding anim­als. This dual­ity is presen­ted in Plato’s Republic in the par­able about a man that is not a man, a stone that is not a stone, a tree that is not a tree, and a bird that is not a bird. The lat­ter is inter­preted as an inscrip­tion about the bat.7Plato. Plato in Twelve Volumes, Vols. 5 & 6. Translated by Paul Shorey, Harvard University Press /​ William Heinemann Ltd., 1969. Perseus Digital Library, Aesop wrote a fable about a bat and a weasel, in which the bat falls from a tree, and the weasel catches him and wants to eat him because he thinks that he is a bird, but the bat says that he is a mouse, and the weasel lets him go. Soon after that, a sim­il­ar situ­ation occurs: anoth­er weasel wants to eat him because he thinks that he is a bird, but the bat is again suc­cess­ful in avoid­ing his fate by claim­ing to be a bat.8Aesop. Aesop’s Fables. Translated by George Fyler Townsend, University of Pennsylvania Press, 2007.; “Bats in Greco-​Roman Antiquity.” Bats magazine, vol. 29, no. 2, 2011, There is anoth­er Aesop’s fable that dis­cusses the bat’s dual­ity where, at first, the bat does not want to par­ti­cip­ate in a war between the birds and the beasts. Later he becomes a turn­coat, and then, dur­ing peace­time, he is rejec­ted by both parties, so he needs to hide in the dark, act at night, and live in caves.9Sax, Boria. An Encyclopedia of Animals in World Myth, Legend, and Literature. ABCCLIO, 2001. A sim­il­ar avoid­ance of light is depic­ted in Ovid’s Metamorphoses and the myth of the Minyades, the three prin­cesses who refused to wor­ship Dionysus, so he pun­ished them by driv­ing them mad and trans­form­ing them into noc­turn­al birds and bats10Ovid. Metamorphoses. Translated by Frank Justus Miller, Harvard University Press, 1958. Theoi Texts Library,

The bat’s neg­at­ive image is pre­served in the Christian Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages, as well as in the works of Church Fathers such as Eusebius of Caesarea, Saint Ambrose from Milan, and Saint Jerome. It reached its peak in Dante’s Divine Comedy, where the Devil is depic­ted as an enorm­ous bat with three faces.11Alighieri Dante. Divine Comedy, Longfellow’s Translation, Hell. Project Gutenberg, 1997,‑h/1001‑h.htm#CantoI.XXXIV. In the Middle Age bes­ti­ar­ies, the bat (lat. Vespertilio) is described as a bird that lacks nobil­ity because, in com­par­is­on to the rest of the birds, it can give birth to its off­spring instead of lay­ing eggs, and it has teeth. The bes­ti­ary entry and the icon­o­graph­ic records in which it is marked as a mouse with wings date from the inscrip­tion of Pliny the Elder (Naturalis Historia 10, 81) and Isidore of Seville (Etymologies 12, 7:36).12“Bat.” The Medieval Bestiary, 2011, In later pop­u­lar cul­ture, bats are linked to vam­pires, Halloween, and Batman. The rep­res­ent­a­tion of bats as blood­suck­ers arose with Bram Stoker’s fam­ous nov­el Dracula and Dracula’s film ver­sion with Bela Lugosi in the main role.13Fenton, M. Brock, and John M. Ratcliffe. “Bats.” Current Biology, vol. 20, no. 24, 2010, pp. 1060 – 1062. At the same time, bats are depic­ted as beings on the bor­der of worldly and oth­er­worldly that are able to tres­pass the bor­der on Halloween night.14Kunz, Thomas. “Halloween Treat: Bat Facts and Folklore.” The American Biology Teacher, vol. 46, no. 7, 1984, pp. 394 – 399.; Voon, Claire. “Why Chinese Art is Swarming with Colonies of Tiny Bats.” Hyperallergic, 24 Oct. 2017, Ultimately, com­ics and movie hero Bruce Wayne, also known as Batman, chooses the bat for his trade­mark after being promp­ted by his child­hood trauma of fall­ing among bats, which is high­lighted in Christopher Nolan’s 2005 film Batman Begins. Through the fig­ure of Batman, and the icon­o­graphy of the bat, the dark cave, and the noc­turn­al life, Wayne fur­ther attempts to instill fear in the villains.

Finally, myth­o­lo­gic­al and pop­u­lar cul­ture rep­res­ent­a­tions of bats can be reduced to sev­er­al com­mon para­met­ers: a) night and avoid­ance of light and sun­light, b) fear, dis­com­fort, and pun­ish­ment in European, and Central American depic­tions, c) luck, longev­ity, and help in Chinese and Pacific stor­ies and tra­di­tions, d) the dual­ity of beings – as half-​mice and half-birds.

It seems that the vari­ety of approaches to bats on the East-​West axis, as we call them, can be explained by employ­ing the idea of con­tem­por­ary philo­soph­er Ji Xianlin on the diversity of opin­ions, accord­ing to which the east­ern one would be syn­thet­ic – mean­ing intriguing, includ­ing nature and all mat­ter (based on Confucian and Taoist per­cep­tions of the world), while the west­ern one would be ana­lyt­ic – mean­ing dis­am­big­u­at­ing, viol­ent and aggress­ive towards nature.15Ji Xianlin. “New Interpretation of the Unity of Heaven and Man.” Essays on Eastern and Western Cultures, edited by Ji Xianlin and Zhang Guanglin, Economics Daily Press, 1997, pp. 82 – 84. Drawing from these ideas, it is clear that the bat in the West is presen­ted as the Other, while in the East (in Polynesia, as well as China), it is depic­ted as part of nature, and con­sequently, the human world.

Contemporary per­cep­tions of bats are dis­cussed in an inter­est­ing art­icle from 2009, writ­ten by Slovak research­ers Pavel Prokop, Jana Frančovičova, and Milan Kubiatko. They con­duc­ted research by using their ques­tion­naire, Bat Attitude Questionnaire (BAQ), among Slovak stu­dents.16Prokop, Pavel, Jana Fančovičová, and Milan Kubiatko. “Vampires Are Still Alive: Slovakian Students’ Attitudes Toward Vampires.” Anthrozoös, vol. 22, no. 1, 2009, pp. 19 – 30. Their theses (the con­nec­tion of know­ledge and beliefs in the nar­rat­ives about bats) con­cur with the reflec­tions of Matchett and Davey, who cat­egor­ize bats as repuls­ive anim­als togeth­er with cock­roaches, spiders, and rats, in order to devel­op a con­ta­gion avoid­ance hypo­thes­is based on (1) fear of anim­als linked to infec­tion, such as mice, rats, bats (2), fear of anim­als linked to mucus or fae­ces, for instance, snakes, worms, or snails (3), fear of anim­als related to dust, dis­ease, or infec­tion, such as spiders.17Matchett, George, and Graham C. L. Davey. “A test of a disease-​avoidance mod­el of anim­al pho­bi­as.” Behaviour Research and Therapy, vol. 29, no. 1, 1991, pp. 91 – 94.; Prokop, Pavel, Jana Fančovičová, and Milan Kubiatko. “Vampires Are Still Alive: Slovakian Students’ Attitudes Toward Vampires.” Anthrozoös, vol. 22, no. 1, 2009, pp. 19 – 30. An addi­tion­al reas­on for fear of bats are media rep­res­ent­a­tions that caused an ingrained belief accord­ing to which bats are rabid, even though the test­ing con­duc­ted by Whitaker and Douglas on 8262 bats showed that only 5.4% tested pos­it­ive for rabies.18Whitaker, John O., and Louis R. Douglas. “Bat Rabies in Indiana.” Journal of Wildlife Management, vol. 70, no. 6, 2006, pp. 1569 – 1573. Moreover, Meyen found that only three out of more than 1000 spe­cies of bats feed on blood, there­fore, they do not rep­res­ent a threat to humans.19Mayen, F. “Haematophagous Bats in Brazil, their Role in Rabies Transmission, Impact on Public Health, Livestock Industry and Alternatives to an Indiscriminate Reduction of Bat Population.” Journal of Veterinary Medicine, Ser. B — Infectious Diseases and Veterinary Public Health, vol. 50, no. 10, 2003, pp. 469 – 472.

The main prob­lem is the lack of empathy towards these anim­als. The reas­on for this is ignor­ance about their ana­tomy, beha­viour, and habits, which causes the cre­ation of nar­rat­ives, myths, and, in the end, fear that leads to the decrease of the bat pop­u­la­tion in the world.

Suzana Marjanić: Of fic­ti­tious and endangered bats, alleged cata­lysts, and car­ri­ers of coronavir­us from Wuhan, or what is it like to be a bat dur­ing the Covid-​19 pan­dem­ic20This part of the text was writ­ten with­in the pro­ject Cultural Animal Studies: Interdisciplinary Perspectives and Traditional Practices – ANIMAL (IP-​2019 – 04-​5621), Croatian Science Foundation.

The sci­entif­ic ver­sion of the story about bats related to the Covid-​19 dis­ease is, as stated by Mirjana Žagar-​Petrović, MD, “the new coronavir­us named 2019-​nCoV was for the first time dis­covered in humans in China by the end of the last year. It causes a dis­ease sim­il­ar to SARS, and the dis­ease it causes is called COVID-​19 (co – corona, v – vir­us, D – dis­ease, 19 – year 2019).”21Žagar-​Petrović, Mirjana. “Tri koronavir­usa – SARS-​Cov‑2 i bolest COVID-​19.” Glasilo Belupo, no. 234, 2020, pp. 14 – 15. Scientists still can­not con­firm which anim­al was the cata­lyst and the car­ri­er of the coronavir­us from Wuhan. However, it is pre­sumed that it could be the bat. Recent epi­dem­ics caused by the vir­us were Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) from 2002/​2003 and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) from 2012. “The research showed that humans were infec­ted with MERS after being in con­tact with camels, while SARS was brought to humans by viver­rids … The prin­cip­al hosts and trans­mit­ters of the coronavir­us are bats, which can carry the vir­us to oth­er anim­als, such as Chinese ferret-​badgers, racoons, and viver­rids. It is believed that the infec­tion ori­gin­ated through the con­sump­tion and the hand­ling of live and sea anim­als at the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market. This was fol­lowed by human-​to-​human trans­mis­sion” (emphas­is added).22Žagar Petrović, Mirjana. “COVID-​19 – nova bolest i novi vir­us koji su prom­ijenili svijet.” Zdravo budi, 7 Apr. 2020,; Coronaviruses such as the cur­rent one from Wuhan and SARS (severe acute res­pir­at­ory syn­drome) are zoonot­ic dis­eases, spread­ing from anim­als to humans.

It is notice­able that the “infec­tious” story does not seem to bring a deeply envir­on­ment­al nar­rat­ive about how the alleged Chinese bat in the met­onym­ic Chinese soup became the cause and the trans­mit­ter of the coronavir­us from Wuhan. Such a nar­rat­ive can be found in Steven Soderbergh’s Contagion from 2011, which fol­lows the spread of a leth­al vir­us that causes a glob­al pan­dem­ic in a mat­ter of weeks. The film’s final flash­back sequence reveals both the cause and the trans­mit­ter of the infec­tion; sys­tem­ic defor­est­a­tion caused the demon­ized Chinese bat to find shel­ter in a pig farm where he trans­mit­ted the infec­tion to a pig that was slaughtered and pre­pared by a chef of a nearby hotel chain. In the con­text of the fic­ti­tious vir­us from Steven Soderbergh’s film, which is con­sid­er­ably more dan­ger­ous and can­not be related to COVID-​19, I would like to put emphas­is on Wilson’s concept of the unity of know­ledge, which is indis­pens­able in the com­par­at­ive ana­lys­is of mass media inform­a­tion and the so-​called cyn­ic­al con­spir­acy the­or­ies that under­mine the cyn­icism of power in the gov­ern­ment, in Sloterdijk’s denota­tion, as well as in the denota­tion of polit­ic­al sci­ent­ist and con­spir­acy the­or­ist Nebojša Blanuša, about the way human pen­et­ra­tion into rain­forests, as well as defor­est­a­tion, causes new pan­dem­ics, as depic­ted in Soderbergh’s film. As the World Wildlife Fund’s illus­tra­tion demon­strates, the first step in caus­ing a pan­dem­ic is sys­tem­ic defor­est­a­tion, fol­lowed by live anim­al trade and the wet mar­ket23They are called “wet” since vendors often slaughter anim­als in front of cus­tom­ers. It is notice­able that the first news about Covid-​19 was fake news about a wet mar­ket in Wuhan being the cause of the pan­dem­ic (Cohen); Cohen, John. “Wuhan sea­food mar­ket may not be the source of the nov­el vir­us spread­ing glob­ally.” Science, 26. Jan. 2020, where dif­fer­ent spe­cies come in con­tact. That would be a con­cise jour­ney of the pan­dem­ic, which is not really men­tioned in the mass media since it is an eco­centric, bio­centric story that con­tra­dicts the glob­al spe­ciecist­ic neo­lib­er­al eco­nomy. In that regard, we can end with the pre­dic­tion of the GMO apo­ca­lypse proph­et, Árpád Pusztai, who says that the “world will not be des­troyed by ter­ror­ists, but by sci­ent­ists.”24Pusztai, Árpád, and Susan Bardocz. Potential Health Effects of Foods Derived from Genetically Modified Plants: What Are the Issues? Third World Network, 2011.

Regarding the before men­tioned zoo-​partaker as the alleged cata­lyst and trans­mit­ter of the pan­dem­ic, I would like to cite research con­duc­ted by Leonard Schild and his asso­ci­ates, who affirmed that the COVID-​19 is encour­aging online sino­pho­bia25During the Covid-​19 pan­dem­ic, Chinese influ­en­cer Wang Mengyun had to apo­lo­gize for the bat soup she ate in Palau, in Micronesia, three years before the start of the pan­dem­ic, which was a photo seg­ment of her vlog comp (O’ Neill).; O’Neill, Marnie. “Chinese influ­en­cer Wang Mengyun, aka ‘Bat soup girl’ breaks silence.” The Chronicle, 7 Feb. 2020, and that shar­ing sino­phobic con­tent is a com­mon phe­nomen­on on social media: it can be found in mar­gin­al online com­munit­ies, as well as on the polit­ic­ally incor­rect plat­form 4chan and, up to a cer­tain degree, on com­mon plat­forms, such as Twitter.26Schild, Leonard, et al. “’Go eat a bat, Chang!’: An Early Look on the Emergence of Sinophobic Behavior on Web Communities in the Face of COVID-​19.” 8 Apr. 2020, ResearchGate, On the oth­er hand, some state­ments of seni­or offi­cials, such as the state­ment on the Chinese vir­us of American pres­id­ent Donald Trump, or the state­ment of French pres­id­ent Emanuel Macron regard­ing Chinese and Russian author­it­ari­an regimes and west­ern demo­cracy, as well as state­ments of fam­ous research­ers such as American sino­lo­gist Jeffery Wasserstrom who, back in December, wrote about hid­ing the first cases of infec­tion, and the state­ments of British think tank Henry Jackson Society that wrote about con­ceal­ing and falsi­fy­ing inform­a­tion, only to, at the peak of those occur­rences, find their place in the mass media such as The Guardian, The New York Times, Sky News Australia, and many oth­ers.27Zhang, Yunpeng, and Fang Xu. “Ignorance, Orientalism and Sinophobia in Knowledge Production on COVID-​19.” Tijdschrift voor eco­nomis­che en sociale geo­grafie, vol. 111, no. 3, 2020, pp. 211 – 223. Such politi­cians’, sci­ent­ists’, and journ­al­ists’ appear­ances and false, unfoun­ded state­ments in the form of fake news and post-​truths con­trib­uted to the rise of sino­pho­bia dur­ing the coronavir­us pandemic.

Sinophobia and influ­en­cer Wang Mengyun’s apo­logy would shift the atten­tion from the eco­centric, zoo­centric per­spect­ive to the bat’s exper­i­ence, not only in the Chinese soup, in which it ended up as a meat vic­tim, but also as the demon­ized media vic­tim in the infec­tious Covid-​19 story. In this con­text, I would like to ref­er­ence the book Being a Beast from 2016, writ­ten by British veter­in­ari­an and philo­soph­er Charles Foster, who wanted to know what it was like to be a wild anim­al. The book is a rep­res­ent­a­tion of his inten­tion to live as a badger in a cave in Wales for six weeks. The exper­i­ence of being an anim­al is marked by nud­ity and cold; he eats insects, worms, and over­run car­ri­ons.28Svendsen, Lars Fr. H. Razumijemo li život­in­je? Filozofskiji pris­tup [Can we Understand Animals? Philosophy for Cat and Dog Lovers]. Translated by Mišo Grundler, TIM press, 2019. In 1974, American philo­soph­er Thomas Nagel wrote an art­icle in which he wondered what it was like to be a bat; he claims that neur­os­cience will nev­er bring us closer to com­pre­hend­ing the men­tioned exper­i­ence, which applies to all oth­er extern­al anim­al research. Nagel’s influ­en­tial art­icle “What Is It Like to Be a Bat?” (1974) delves into the essence of the prob­lem, and that is the ques­tion of con­scious­ness (qualia). Namely, as much as we research, even if we have all the inform­a­tion about the bat’s brain archi­tec­ture, we can­not know what the bat exper­i­ences in times of pandemics.

On April 14th, 2020, the asso­ci­ation Animal Friends Croatia pub­lished on their webpage the fol­low­ing news29Comp. Petition against anim­al exploit­a­tion: about a group called NOVID-​50 that star­ted with a team of 20 people who tried to present a solu­tion to the COVID-​19 crises on Global Hack, an online event where teams from all over the world are try­ing to bring forth prac­tic­al solu­tions in a 48h peri­od. NOVID-​50 deals with the cause of pan­dem­ics caused by dis­eases trans­mit­ted by anim­als, but the emphas­is is on intense anim­al exploit­a­tion (for instance, Charles Patterson claims the indus­tri­al strategy to be a holo­caust – an anim­al holo­caust). Animal Friends Croatia calls on the United Nations to cre­ate a strategy for the clos­ure of indus­tri­al anim­al farms, live anim­al mar­kets, as well as the over­all exploit­a­tion of anim­als. To sum­mar­ize, the asso­ci­ation high­lighted the deeply envir­on­ment­al cata­lyst of the pan­dem­ics, among which we have the meat diet – or as Melanie Joy would say – the ideo­logy of carnism.

It is note­worthy that as part of the out­break of the pan­dem­ic, it was repor­ted that some anim­als have a neg­at­ive impact on human health, the so-​called wet mar­kets have been linked to Covid-​19, and peri­ods of swine flu, bird flu, MERS (camel as the demon­ized cata­lyst), mad cow dis­ease,30Gellatley, Juliet. Kako postati, biti i ostati veget­ar­i­janac ili vegan? [The Livewire Guide to Going, Being and Staying Veggie!]. Preveli Irena Nedjeljković i Igor Roginek, Urdruga Prijatelji život­inja, 2001. and SARS (bats and rep­tiles as the demon­ized cata­lysts) have been high­lighted. With its vegan bill­board, PETA, on the oth­er hand, pro­claimed how a meat­less diet, that is, met­onym­ic­al tofu, nev­er caused a pandemic.

Merlin D. Tuttle, sci­ent­ist and founder of Bat Conservation International, and host of Merlin Tuttle’s Bat Conservation, in his art­icle, Give Bats a Break from 2017, emphas­izes that the search for new vir­uses in bats prob­ably would not sig­ni­fic­antly con­trib­ute to human health but it could ser­i­ously jeop­ard­ize the bat’s future.31Tuttle, Merlin D. “Give Bats a Break.” Issues in Science and Technology, vol. 33, no. 3, 2017, pp. 41 – 50. To sum­mar­ize the art­icle: the idea that bats could be respons­ible for trans­mit­ting a new leth­al infec­tion to humans star­ted in 2002 with the dis­cov­ery of a new coronavir­us that caused a ser­i­ous res­pir­at­ory infec­tion called SARS. Coronaviruses are wide­spread among anim­als; they cause com­mon colds. However, in 2002, SARS was the cause of death of around 800 people. Three years later, an art­icle in Science called “Bats are Natural Reservoirs of SARS-​like Coronaviruses” announced a pub­lic lynch­ing of bats, giv­en that bats were sci­en­tific­ally pro­claimed to be a glob­al threat to pub­lic health. From that point on, so-​called vir­us hunters have con­duc­ted an intense search for the dan­ger­ous bat vir­uses. In the con­text of the above-​mentioned art­icle, the author stresses that we should start wor­ry­ing about our con­duct towards bats on behalf of sci­ence and pub­lic health. Merlin D. Tuttle fur­ther claims from his eco­centric point of view that it is impossible that bats have influ­enced the occur­rence of the infec­tion, con­sid­er­ing the fact that, for the most of human his­tory, we lived with bats in caves, then in thatched huts and log cab­ins. However, over the last hun­dred years, the trend has reversed. Due to indus­tri­al­isa­tion, the bat pop­u­la­tion decreased, and mod­ern people have begun to live in build­ings that exclude bats from their hab­it­at. Bearing in mind the long his­tory of our close con­nec­tion, it is under­stand­able that we have developed an extraordin­ary res­ist­ance towards each oth­er regard­ing dis­eases. Perhaps this explains why it was so dif­fi­cult to doc­u­ment bats as the sources of infec­tions among people and why it is so cru­cial to erad­ic­ate the demon­iz­a­tion of bats.32Tuttle, Merlin D. “Give Bats a Break.” Issues in Science and Technology, vol. 33, no. 3, 2017, pp. 41 – 50. In that respect, I con­sider Merlin D. Tuttle’s zoo­centric art­icle the finest response to Nagel’s philo­soph­ic­al and rhet­or­ic­al ques­tion of per­spect­ive from 1974.

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