The brown bats that call the South Chagrin Shelterhouse home are so small, they can crawl through a hole the size of a dime. But they're a big part of the park's Bat Gala Friday. The action starts at dusk, when the bat colony takes flight. "It's 'good morning' for the bats," explains naturalist Carly Martin.
The evening flyover is actually an aerial buffet line: They chow down on flying beetles, moths, and mosquitoes -- "potato chips for bats," as Martin says. "They don't get filled up on them, but they can't eat just one."
Afterward, kids dress up like bats and catch Velcro-covered stuffed insects, work their way through a maze of bat questions, and watch bat-catchers net the creatures for a closer look. "Bats have a lot of folklore, but [they're] not frightening," Martin says.
The celebration concludes with an outdoor showing of the campy 1930 British flick The Bat Whispers, as the bats retire to the Shelterhouse. "We're not a part of their world," Martin says. "We're just in the way." Bat Gala takes place from 6 to 11 p.m. at the Shelterhouse Picnic Area of the South Chagrin Reservation, off Hawthorn Parkway in Bentleyville. Admission is free; call 440-247-7075. -- Cris Glaser
The zoo's best-dressed residents are movin' on up.
Penguin Point, the splashy new digs of the Akron Zoo's 18 Humboldt penguins, will be unveiled Saturday. The exhibit resembles an abandoned shipwreck set against the birds' native habitat on the rocky South American coastline. The topside view looks down on the birds; downstairs offers an underwater look at them, swimming and eating yummy capelins and smelt. Penguin Point is designed to house up to 40 birds, so look for major penguin lovin' in the spring. It opens at 10 a.m. at the Akron Zoo, 500 Edgewood Avenue in Akron. Zoo admission is $5 to $7.50; call 330-375-2525. -- Cris Glaser