Animal contests aren’t new. From watching dogs run through obstacle courses to judging the biggest bear, we like to subject them to weird standards for our entertainment. Sometimes, we even vote them to be the coolest, ugliest, or best of their species. And those results can get really weird or, in the case of a recent bird contest, hilarious. New Zealand’s Bird of the Year for 2021 is… a bat. Yes, that’s right, a mammal somehow took the top spot in an aviary contest. (Thanks to IGN for bringing this interesting news to our attention!)
The winner in question pekapeka-tou-roa, or long-tailed bat, a tiny bat native to the country. An organization named Forest & Bird tweeted the announcement, seemingly happy for the lesser-known creature to take the top spot. The long-tailed bat’s bird of the year win comes from over 7,000 votes (out of over 58,000) from many countries. That’s a lot of support for a tiny flying furry animal.
A huge congratulations to the pekapeka long-tailed bat for winning #BirdoftheYear 2021! 🦇🏆— Forest & Bird (@Forest_and_Bird) October 31, 2021
Despite being our only endemic land mammal, most people don't even know they exist, which makes their win even more outstanding. pic.twitter.com/dZEMNn7t5H
Of course, Twitter is having a field day with this revelation. Many wonder how the hell a bat even got on the ballot and what other animals might win in the future. A cat? A shark? Anything is possible. It turns out the bat’s inclusion wasn’t some fluke or a funny joke. The contest’s purpose was to raise awareness of the many types of species living in New Zealand. And, honestly, it’s kind of nice to see a bat included considering the negative reputation around them from the past as well as recent times. (Hello, pandemic.) But they are mostly harmless yet helpful (and rather social) beings minding their business.
We only wish we’d know about it in time to vote a bat for the best bird. No offense to birds but bats are some pretty cool flying creatures. That’s the type of contest we love to see.