The long-tailed bat (Chalinolobus tuberculatus), also known as the pekapeka-tou-roa in Māori, soared past the competition in New Zealand's Bird of the Year 2021 contest. Locals were shocked when it surpassed all other bird species by 3,000 votes in the popular competition, reports Eva Corlett for the Guardian. The competition also had the highest number of votes in its 17-year history, with 58,000 votes flooding in from all around the globe.
The Bird of the Year competition is hosted by Forest and Bird, an environmental organization in New Zealand dedicated to protecting and conserving the country's unique flora and fauna. Every year, the competition exists to bring awareness to native wildlife and the ecological plights they face. Voting took place between Monday, October 19, and ended on October 31. In total, 76 species were highlighted in the contest, including the long-tailed bat as the first mammal ever added to the contestant list, reports Gizmodo's Issac Schultz. The island country only has two native bat species: the long-tailed bat and the lesser short-tailed bat.