CORAL GABLES, Florida-- When workers at Bacardi discovered a colony of bats near their regional headquarters in Florida, they didn't call an exterminator. They called it good luck.
The connection between the rum and the flying mammal goes back more than 150 years. Just look to their distinctive bat logo for a nod back to the history.
"More than 150 years ago, bats were living in the rafters of our first distillery in Santiago de Cuba," explains Eddie Cutillas, Director of Community Relations said in a press release. "They were believed to bring good fortune and symbolize family unity – and so our BACARDI bat emblem was born in 1862."
Florida International University biologist Kristen Bohn discovered the rare species of bat: Eumops floridanus. "They're among the rarest mammals in the world," she said. "We believe there are only 500 left and they exist only in southern Florida." They're nicknamed the Florida bonnetted bat, because of the way its large ears slant forward. They were recently added to the endangered species list.
The bats have made their home at the Coral Gables Granada Golf Course, near the Bacardi headquarters and several other businesses.
Bohn organized bat watching nights and bat research meetups. Up to 200 community members have attended the special events. Some of those events are now catered with the bat-labeled Bacardi. "What better fit than with the bats right here in our midst?," Cutillas asked.
Bohn is raising research money to study how the bats roost and what they eat. She believes those answers will help preserve the species.