FairPrice apologises after bat seen eating bananas outside Jurong East outlet

NTUC FairPrice has contacted the authorities to look into the cause of the presence of bats in the area. PHOTOS: ALL SINGAPORE STUFF/FACEBOOK

SINGAPORE -NTUC FairPrice apologised on Friday (Oct 16) afternoon after a video of a bat feeding on a comb of bananas at the supermarket chain's 24-hour store in Jurong East made the rounds online.

In a Facebook Post on Friday afternoon, FairPrice said it was aware of the viral video of the incident outside the outlet at 345 Jurong East Street 31, where the fruits were displayed.

But it is unclear which day and what time the video was filmed that night.

"We have since moved all fruits inside the store to prevent future occurrences, and checks have also been made to ensure any fruits affected have been discarded," said FairPrice in the Facebook post.

The grocery chain has contacted the authorities to look into the cause of the presence of bats in the area. The Straits Times has contacted FairPrice for more details.

Animal Concerns Research and Education Society (Acres) deputy chief executive Kalai Vanan told ST that the bat in the video is a juvenile lesser dog-faced fruit bat, commonly found in Singapore, and even in residential areas as they feed on a variety of wild flora.

"In this case, the bat showed its opportunistic nature by feeding on readily available bananas," he added.

Mr Kalai also said it was good that FairPrice moved the fruits inside the store.

"Moving forward, we hope NTUC can look into alternative ways of displaying the fruits that will prevent (animal) access to the fruits," he said.

"Removing the bats would not be a solution as long as the food provision is still there."

This is not the first time this year that bats have been spotted in urban places.

Last month, bats flew into some residents' homes in Block 14 Upper Boon Keng Road. The Jalan Besar Town Council later pruned fruit trees near the affected block to discourage the bats from roosting there.

People have also become more jittery around bats here as they may be a source of the coronavirus elsewhere in the world.

A World Health Organisation scientist said in May that Sars-CoV-2, which causes Covid-19, comes from a group of viruses that originate or are spread by bats.

In February, The Straits Times reported that the Singapore authorities were receiving more bat-related reports than usual, with some people worried they may catch the coronavirus from the creatures.

One person reportedly threw a live bat down a rubbish chute.

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Experts told The Straits Times last month that it is highly unlikely that bats in Singapore are carrying the coronavirus that causes Covid-19, but people who come into contact with one should still take precautions.

The shy animals play important roles in the ecosystem as pollinators and seed dispersers, as well as helping to keep the insect population in check.

According to The National Parks Board's animal advisory on bats, the public is advised to leave bats alone when they come across them. Those who happen to come into contact with bats should thoroughly wash their hands with soap.

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