Animal friendly tequila

by Luis Viques

Earth, how are you doing? (Issue I/2018)


A bat. Illustration: Can Stock Photo/Birchside

In early spring, the females begin their journey, flying an incredible 2,000 kilometres, from Mexico along the Pacific coast to the north, as far as southern Arizona. On their way, they pollinate agaves when they drink nectar from their flowers. Agaves are essential for the national drink of Mexico: tequila.

But since tequila production was industrialised, the large agave plantations only use cloned plants, which are harvested before flowering to boost yields. This is bad for the bats who lose out on the main food source on their migration. It has also been shown that it is bad for the agave cultivation: The cloned plants have no genetic diversity and have become very susceptible to disease.

Now bartenders, researchers and plantation owners, led by Professor Rodrigo A. Medellin, have teamed up in defense of the bats. Under their instructions, some agave plants are left to flower, so the bats can drink their nectar and pollinate them. The tequila bottles from this cultivation are marked with a quality seal: “bat-friendly Tequila”.

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