- Associated Press - Friday, June 30, 2017

PONTIAC, Mich. (AP) - A nonprofit devoted to bat conservation is relocating its headquarters in eastern Michigan to a larger space just a few miles from its longtime home.

The Organization for Bat Conservation operates a live animal center to teach the public about the flying mammals. It currently maintains its Bat Zone quarters at the Cranbrook Institute of Science in Bloomfield Hills, but the group plans to move to a 10,000-square-foot building in Pontiac.

“This move is going to be phenomenal,” said Rob Mies, the nonprofit’s founder and executive director. “Everyone is really focused and energized right now. We have all these amazing things going on.”

He said the organization needed to move to a larger spot because its growth and new projects required more space.

The organization held its final tours in Bloomfield Hills last month. It plans to host the public for a grand opening of its Pontiac location on Saturday.

The organization, which launched in 1997, has operated in Bloomfield Hills for 15 years. Mies said the group had a staff of eight and about 100 bats in its 2,000-square-foot facility when it began.

Since then, the organization has grown to a staff of about 15 with about 20 more volunteers. The group now has nearly 200 bats in its program as well as flying squirrels, owls and a two-toed sloth.

The growth forced the organization to keep employees and animals in different buildings, Mies said.

Cranbrook will use the organization’s old building for interactive, hands-on educational programs. Its first program will focus on dinosaurs and is expected to open late this summer.

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