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National Zoo Accused Of Incompetence, Ignorance

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By Stephanie Kaye

The National Zoo is being accused of mishandling its experiments to save bats from a deadly fungus.

The experiment to save Virginia's endangered big-eared bat involved creating a colony of the small, flying mammals at the National Zoo's conservation center in Front Royal. Five months into the project, most of the bats are dead. A consultant with the zoo's program says the bats were mishandled by workers, which lead to skin infections and injuries.

The zoo disputes the allegations, saying this species has never been held in captivity before, which led to problems.

The group Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility is accusing the zoo of "ignorance and incompetence." Members are asking for the remaining bats to be removed.

A spokesperson for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says the Smithsonian is trying to care for the remaining bats and moving them would just cause more stress.

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