GIVING THANKS: NEW AND ADOPTED BABY PENGUINS HATCH AT MOODY GARDENS

Thanksgiving is a time to be grateful, and we’re offering a very warm welcome for several healthy Macaroni penguin chicks, which includes the hatching of the six eggs recently brought from Sea World San Diego and the very significant bonus of two others being the first successful hatching of the Macaroni penguin species from pairs already calling the South Atlantic exhibit home.

 

The six eggs from Sea World San Diego made quite a journey traveling on a commercial flight following a streamlined process initiated by their keepers in California. Once arriving at Moody Gardens they were placed in an incubator and cared for by staff until it was time for them to make their debut. These eggs seemingly couldn’t wait to join the Moody Gardens family as their anticipated hatch dates were set for Nov. 25-28 but the hatching started on Nov. 22 and continued through the weekend so that all six eggs have already hatched out.

 

“We are extremely grateful and excited for these new chicks to join the exhibit here at Moody Gardens,” said Assistant Curator Diane Olsen. “They received excellent care from the staff at Sea World San Diego and we are ready to continue that care as these chicks continue to grow and mature.”

 

In addition to these “adopted” penguin babies joining the South Atlantic Penguin Exhibit, two other native Macaroni penguin pairs are celebrating Thanksgiving with babies of their own.

 

The first native chick hatched on Nov. 17. The proud penguin parents are Bleu, a male who came to Moody Gardens from the Biodome in Montreal, Canada in 2007, and Gorgonzola, a female hatched at Sea World San Diego who arrived at Moody Gardens in 2017.

 

A few days later on Nov. 21, the second native chick made its debut. Its parents are Munster, a male also from the Biodome who came to Moody Gardens in 2007 and Gouda, a female from Newport Aquarium who moved into the South Atlantic exhibit in 2015.

 

Munster, Bleu, Gorgonzola and Gouda are just four of the Macaroni penguins calling Moody Gardens’ home. Their friends in the exhibit have names like Brie, Pepper Jack, Colby and more, in keeping with the whimsical tradition instituted by their biologists. Since these new chicks are the first in a second generation of Macaroni penguins at Moody Gardens their keepers have decided to name them after pastas to go along with the existing theme of cheeses for a little more biologist fun.

 

“Biologists like their puns and having animals like the Macaroni penguins gives us a great opportunity to show off our fun side,” Olsen said.

 

Stay tuned to Moody Gardens’ social media as we continue to share more exciting updates about the newest additions to our penguin family.

MACARONI PENGUINS GET CHANCE AT FOREVER HOME AT MOODY GARDENS

                                                            National Adoption Month Brings a Texas Homecoming for Six Penguin Eggs  

 

Moody Gardens is celebrating National Adoption Month with the highly-anticipated addition of six Macaroni penguin eggs to its collection.

 

These six eggs, came from Sea World San Diego, and are being cared for in an incubator by our staff biologists following a streamlined process that allowed this precious cargo to fly on a commercial flight last week inside a warm, insulated cooler that slid securely under the seat under the watchful eye of an attentive staff biologist and penguin mother-to-be, Maggie Reynolds. The anticipated hatch dates are Nov. 25-28, just in time for Thanksgiving.

 

The successful hatching of new chicks will allow for a more diverse penguin collection as they join the 10 other Macaroni penguins currently on exhibit in the Aquarium Pyramid. Four of these penguins came to Moody Gardens from Sea World San Antonio, while the other six were from the Detroit Zoo.

 

Each successful hatch adds to the Moody Gardens mission of education and conservation. Assistant Curator Diane Olsen notes that as is true in nature, there is not a guarantee that each egg will hatch. “As with every egg that is laid either at Moody Gardens, another facility or in the wild, whether it hatches or not is all up to nature and several circumstances. While we will do everything in our power to give these eggs the best chance at survival, sometimes no chick is hatched at the end of the process,” she said.

 

Olsen also explained the significance of adding Macaroni penguin eggs to the Moody Gardens’ collection. “Increasing the number of Macaroni penguins in the Moody Gardens’ collection helps to increase our breeding success and genetic diversity in the future. It also benefits the population of penguins kept at facilities accredited by AZA (Association of Zoos and Aquariums), like Moody Gardens.”

 

Having Macaroni penguins on exhibit allows the public to learn about the plight these birds face in the wild. Macaroni penguins are currently listed as Threatened in the wild and numbers of populations are decreasing due to the climate change as well as overfishing.

 

The anticipated arrival of fuzzy penguin chicks also begs the question of whether a Moody Gardens tradition will continue to name Macaroni penguins after cheeses to join Brie, Jack, Colby and others.

 

Our Aquarium Pyramid is one of the largest and most diverse aquariums in the U.S. In addition to the Macaroni penguins, five other species including Gentoo, Chinstrap, King, and Rockhopper penguins also call the South Atlantic Exhibit home. The warm-climate Humboldt penguins live in an exhibit right next door to their chilly-aired friends. With over one million gallons of water, the building also houses colorful marine life from all around the world including sting rays, sharks, seals and sea lions, and hundreds of species of fish.

Parachuting Santa, Choirs and a Tribute to the Victorian Age Kicked Off Moody Gardens’ Holiday in the Gardens

A skydiving Santa and his merry elves have kicked off the fun-filled holiday season as Moody Gardens 18th annual Festival of Lights opened Nov. 16. One of the Gulf Coast’s largest holiday lighting events offers Christmas tradition infused with some steampunk flair making this a holiday tradition the whole family can enjoy.

 

The opening ceremony began at 4 p.m. with talented Texas locals providing holiday-themed entertainment. This year even featured a sci-fi twist to the entertainment pairing with Moody Gardens’ newest attraction, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea: An Interactive Adventure. Guests were treated to performances by Lee’s Golden Dragon lion dancers, Jill Rauscher School of Dance, the Houston Show Choir, and much more as the entertainment followed the Christmas Around the World theme with its steampunk twist.

 

Families joyfully welcomed Santa at 5 p.m. when he parachuted down from the North Pole to help prepare Moody Gardens for the grand lighting of the Festival of Lights trail. After mixing, mingling and few dazzling performances to put everyone in the holiday mood, Santa flipped the switch at 6 p.m. to turn on the two million twinkling lights that make up Festival of Lights, officially kicking off the holiday season on Galveston Island.

 

Festival of Lights will continue to shine throughout the holiday season nightly through Jan. 12. Hours run from 6-11 p.m. Moody Gardens’ other holiday and year-round attractions, including ICE LAND, holiday 3D films, Rudolph 4D, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea: An Interactive Adventure, Aquarium Pyramid and more are open 10 a.m.-10 p.m. This year’s ICE LAND: Christmas Around the World will take guests on a frosty journey from Russia and Egypt to China and beyond featuring famous sights like the Statue of Liberty, the Alamo, Big Ben, the Eiffel Tower, the Great Wall of China, and more.

 

Regular admission to the Festival of Lights is $18.95. Guests can take advantage of significant discounts with the new Super Value Days and Value Days. Super Value Days start at $8.95 for Festival of Lights. For more information, click here.

Moody Gardens Says Thank You to Galveston Island on Oct. 20th

MOODY GARDENS SAYS THANK YOU TO GALVESTON ISLAND ON OCT. 20

Journey beneath the waves inside the Aquarium Pyramid, trek through the rainforests of the world. And learn all about the bones of the body – plus so much more – at this year’s Galveston Appreciation Day.

 

Galveston residents and workers will be treated to a one-of-a-kind experience at one of the top tourist destinations in the region when Moody Gardens hosts this annual event on Oct. 20 from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Guests who live or work on Galveston Island – along with their immediate family – will receive free admission to the Aquarium Pyramid, Rainforest Pyramid, Discovery Museum, MG 3D Theater, 4D Special FX Theater and the Colonel Paddlewheel Boat.

 

“Galveston Island has a great community spirit, and it is our residents and employees who work here who make it so special,” said Moody Gardens President and CEO John Zendt. “Being able to give the Galveston community a day to enjoy Moody Gardens on us allows us to truly express our gratitude.”

 

Guests must show proof of island residency or employment with a driver’s license or state identification card, utility bill, paycheck stub or work identification badge to be eligible for the Galveston Appreciation Day offer.

 

Moody Gardens will give away more than 2,000 Oleanders and Palm Trees to island residents as part of a beautification project. Click here to receive a voucher for the Oleander or Palm Tree. It can be redeemed at the front of the Visitor Center on Galveston Appreciation Day 11 a.m.-2 p.m.

Moody Gardens Welcomes Ice Carvers to create Festival Global Journey

 

MOODY GARDENS WELCOMES MASTER ICE CARVERS TO CREATE FESTIVAL GLOBAL JOURNEY

 

After traveling halfway around the world, the internationally-acclaimed CAA Harbin Ruijing Carving Team has returned to Moody Gardens to chart the course for a festive and amazingly cool journey around the world from two million pounds of ice.

 

The team of 25 master carvers will spend the next six weeks sculpting ordinary 300-pound blocks of colored ice into works of art and more as they create ICE LAND: Christmas Around the World, opening Nov. 16.

This year’s ICE LAND theme takes guests on a journey around the world. The carving team will even create a giant ice slide that will take guests from the top of the Eiffel Tower to the Arc de Triomphe. Guests will travel from Russia and Egypt to China and beyond and see how other cultures celebrate the season. Landmarks from all around the world will be featured including the Alamo, Big Ben, Sydney Opera House, the Great Wall of China, and more – all hand-carved out of two million pounds of ice inside a 28,000 square foot insulated tent structure chilled and maintained at nine degrees. The popular Shiver’s Ice Bar also returns to ICE LAND this year as guests enjoy ultra-cool holiday spirits as they enter this bar made completely of ice creatively transformed into a cozy cabin to fit the Christmas Around the World theme.

 

The team is led by chief ice and snow carving artist Mr. Qui Guanghui, who has received top honors in numerous international tournaments including the Harbin International Ice and Snow Carving and Chinese National Ice Carving Competition.

 

“The ice carving team creates a unique and breathtaking spectacle every year,” said John Zendt, Moody Gardens President and CEO. “Guests will be amazed at the amazing talent and dedication of all the work that goes into creating ICE LAND.”

 

ICE LAND: Christmas Around the World, the only ice sculpture exhibition on the Gulf Coast, is open Nov. 16, 2019-Jan. 12, 2020.

 

Other holiday attractions include Festival of Lights, Cirque Joyeux Dinner & Show, Rudolph 4D, 3D films, ice skating, an Arctic Slide and train rides, plus live entertainment and great food. For more information about these attractions, and discounted ticket options, click here.

Ice Land: Christmas Around the World 2019

MOODY GARDENS REVEALS ICE LAND: CHRISTMAS AROUND THE WORLD FOR 2019

 

The world’s most famous landmarks will become cooler than ever as Moody Gardens introduces ICE LAND: Christmas Around the World with a brand new theme, exciting guest experiences, and bigger discounts on Nov. 16. The award-winning CAA Harbin Ruijing Carving Team of master ice carvers from Harbin, China will return to Moody Gardens to chart the course for this festive journey around the world.

 

Guests will travel from Russia and Egypt to China and beyond and see how other cultures celebrate the season. Featured will be landmarks from all around the world including the Alamo, Big Ben, Sydney Opera House, the Great Wall of China and more – all hand-carved out of two million pounds of ice. There’s even a giant ice slide that will take guests from the top of the Eiffel Tower to the Arc de Triomphe. There is even an option to stop by Shivers Ice Bar, featuring ultra-cool holiday spirits as this frozen watering hole is made completely of ice.

 

Now in its sixth year, ICE LAND has cemented its position as the region’s coolest holiday attraction. It will offer a more colorful range of sculptures than ever in the 28,000 square foot insulated tent structure chilled and maintained at nine degrees.

 

“In our sixth year, we are very excited to showcase another signature theme for ICE LAND this year,” said John Zendt, Moody Gardens President and CEO, who added that it is nice to see families throughout the region return each year to make Holiday in the Gardens part of their annual traditions.

 

In addition to ICE LAND, Moody Gardens will feature seven other attractions as part of Holiday in the Gardens including Cirque Joyeux Dinner & Show, Festival of Lights, an outdoor ice rink, train rides, Arctic Slide, Rudolph 4D, and 3D holiday films.

 

ICE LAND will offer a unique holiday experience for the entire family and will be open November 16 through January 12, as Galveston makes its transition into the Winter Wonder Island. Admission for adults is $28.95 and $23.95 for children and seniors. There are also many ways for guests to save on their experience. The new Super Value Days start at $8.95 for Festival of Lights and $19.95 for ICE LAND with an additional $5 off for seniors and children at ICE LAND. A discounted Evening Pass allows admission to all attractions with a variety of other discounts and packages at the Moody Gardens Hotel.

 

For more information, or to purchase tickets, click here.

Great Bear Rainforest 3D Comes to Moody Gardens

Beginning August 31 you’ll get to experience one of the planet’s most exquisite and secluded wildernesses – Canada’s Great Bear Rainforest – when the new giant-screen documentary “Great Bear Rainforest 3D” opens in the MG 3D Theater.

Narrated by actor Ryan Reynolds the film tells the story of one of the rarest animals on Earth—the fabled all-white Spirit Bear—and its ancient forest home.   Hidden from the outside world, the Great Bear Rainforest is one of the planet’s most sheltered and unseen wildernesses.   Found on Canada’s rugged Pacific coast, it is the largest temperate coastal rainforest in the world and is home to indigenous First Nations peoples, who have provided stewardship of the forest for millennia.   Embark on a remarkable journey into a land of grizzlies, coastal wolves, sea otters, and humpback whales—and discover the secret world of the Spirit Bear.

The film will make its debut at the MG 3D Theater on August 31 with a special appearance from the film’s Sound Designer Tim Archer at 9:30am.

For over 30 years Tim has been recording, designing and mixing audio for the Giant Screen and Themed Attractions.  He has received MPSE “Golden Reel” Awards for Giant Screen film projects such as “Santa vs. the Snowman 3D” and “The Human Body” as well as Pirates a Themed Attraction project.

Those that attend the 10:00 a.m. screenings on August 31, September 1 and 2 can enter in a drawing for a chance to win a Spirit Bear Prize Package valued at over $500! Spirit Bear Prize Package Includes: $500 Cabela’s Gift Card and Spirit Bear Gift Items. Stay tuned to our social media channels for more opportunities to win prizes from the film!

Want to learn more about the film? Click here for more info!

Rhapsody on the Reef

A VERY SPECIAL EVENING FOR A VERY SPECIAL CAUSE: MOODY GARDENS HOSTS RHAPSODY ON THE REEF

Experience one of nature’s most spectacular and rare ocean phenomena as Moody Gardens introduces the “Rhapsody on the Reef” coral spawning event on Aug. 23 at the Aquarium Pyramid. Guests will enjoy this amazing spectacle with light hors d’oeuvres, live music, cocktails, a variety of speakers and a silent auction as money is raised to help with ocean conservation.

 

While it occurs 150 miles off the coast of Galveston in the Gulf of Mexico, most people are unaware of this coral spawning. It takes place within the Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary, one of 14 federally designated underwater areas protected by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Office of National Marine Sanctuaries. It is the only sanctuary site located in the Gulf of Mexico. The total area of the sanctuary is about 56 square miles (about 36,000 acres), divided between three distinct areas: East Flower Garden Bank, West Flower Garden Bank and Stetson Bank.

 

Discovered at the turn of the 20th century by fishermen in search of snapper and grouper, the banks’ colorful reefs are the northernmost in the continental United States. Fishermen nicknamed this area the “Texas Flower Gardens” because of the colorful marine life they saw on the reefs below them. By the time the sanctuary was designated, the term ‘banks’ had been added to the name as a reference to the salt dome formations upon which the reefs are perched.

 

The coral spawning event allows corals at the Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary to reproduce and disperse their genetic material over large distances. It also allows for genetic mixing between species of coral for greater diversification. In ways that defy scientific understanding, each coral species times its spawning for maximum benefit to the ecosystem in general.

 

At the Flower Garden Banks, this event typically occurs 7-10 days after the full moon in August. The timing for these mass spawning events varies from reef to reef around the world. The stunning phenomenon brings to mind an underwater blizzard with billions of colorful flakes cascading in white, yellow, red, and orange. These flakes, known as planula will eventually settle in a particular area and begin to bud in the ocean developing a coral colony.

 

At “Rhapsody on the Reef,” Moody Gardens will livestream the coral spawning live from the Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary into the Aquarium Pyramid. The event will also feature presentations from NOAA, Galveston Bay Foundation and others as well as live music featuring a fun selection of contemporary music by the River Oaks String Quartet, a delightful menu of light hors d’oeuvres and desserts, a cash bar and a silent auction.

 

NOAA representatives will present on the coral spawning event and how sanctuary researchers have been documenting the mass coral spawning to accumulate more precise data on timing and species participation. The Galveston Bay Foundation will also present details on their annual report card for Galveston Bay providing scientific analysis of the health of the bay thereby inspiring others to take action to protect and preserve our waters.

 

“We are excited to be able to provide our guests with the chance to experience this beautiful phenomenon in a unique setting,” said Moody Gardens President and CEO John Zendt, adding that this experience ideally fits with Moody Gardens’ mission to educate the public as the Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary is a hidden gem sitting just 150 miles off the coast of Galveston Island.

 

Early bird tickets are $85 per person until Aug. 16. The regular price is $100 per person starting Aug. 17 with proceeds going to the Moody Gardens’ Conservation Fund. The funds raised from this event will go specifically to coral conservation efforts around the world.

 

Click here for more information about Rhapsody on the Reef, or to purchase tickets.

Shark U Week Returns to Moody Gardens

It’s that time of the year when Sharks take center stage and get the chance to let their fins shine. Shark U Week makes a splash at Moody Gardens starting Sunday July 28 through Saturday August 3, giving guests a chance to learn more about some of the most fascinating creatures of the ocean.

Guests can enjoy free shark-themed arts and crafts inside the Visitor Center Garden Lobby 1-3 p.m. daily, in addition to the interactive Shark Carts that will be stationed throughout the Aquarium Pyramid 10:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. daily with unique artifacts.

Learn more about sharks and marine life with daily dive presentations at 10:30 a.m. in the Gulf Rig Exhibit, 1:30 p.m. in the Caribbean Exhibit and 2:30 p.m. in the South Pacific Exhibit, all inside the Aquarium Pyramid. A communication system will allow divers, while underwater, to talk to guests in real time and answer any questions they may have about sharks in the exhibit as well as in their natural habitat.

Interactive learning continues with See-Food Activities, located inside the Aquarium Pyramid Caribbean Tunnel. Guests will have a shark’s eye-view from this tunnel, from beneath the water, to see how easy it is for a shark to mistake a human for its prey. Can they tell the difference between a surfer and a seal? What about a turtle and a flotation device? It may be a case of mistaken identity.

On Thursday August 1 only, guests can sink their teeth into a special screening of Steven Spielberg’s 1975 classic, JAWS along with a Q&A session with shark experts to dispel some myths about sharks. Catch it at the MG 3D Theater at 7 p.m. To register for free guests can visit: www.moodygardens.org/sharkuweek.

Discover the Great White’s place in imaginations, in fears and in the reality of their role at the top of the oceanic food chain with Great White Shark 3D, coming to guests on the largest movie screen in Texas inside the MG 3D Theater. The film will play daily at 11:00 a.m., 1:30 p.m., 4:00 p.m., 6:30 p.m. and 8:00 p.m.  Please note times are subject to change.

The public is encouraged to follow Moody Gardens on Facebook for live videos throughout the week for all things shark. Guests can send in questions using the hashtag #SharkUWeek and Moody Gardens shark experts will answer them LIVE from the Aquarium Pyramid. Shark trivia and fun facts will also be featured throughout the week on Moody Gardens social media outlets.

Guests planning to enjoy Shark U Week can save $5 per person on admission to the Aquarium Pyramid when purchasing tickets online at moodygardens.org by using code MGSHARK at checkout, valid July 28-August 3.

Don’t forget, shark week can be any week at Moody Gardens! With our recently renovated Aquarium Pyramid there’s plenty of sharks and marine life you can explore and get acquainted with.  At Moody Gardens we use our own innate knowledge of different shark species to debunk myths and educate the public. Shark U Week gives us the opportunity to explore sharks through interactive learning and unique presentations.

For a complete schedule of activities, please visit www.moodygardens.org/sharkuweek or call 409-744-4673.

MOODY GARDENS OPENS REEFER LAB ON 4/20

Aquarium Pyramid’s New Coral Reef Lab Addresses Critical Environmental Crisis On Florida Reef Tract

DONATE NOW: CLICK HERE TO HELP SAVE CORAL REEFS

Moody Gardens wants you to be a reefer starting 4/20. Now that we have your attention, an international effort is underway to increase awareness and combat a disease that is rapidly killing the Florida Reef Tract, the third largest coral reef system in the world. Moody Gardens’ new Coral Rescue Lab will be used to propagate coral as it focuses on species being impacted by this disease.

The Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), selected Moody Gardens to participate in this vital project to help save corals native to the Florida Reef Tract as one of 60 institutions from 21 states and Canada.

“We are excited and honored to be selected as one of the institutions that are being entrusted with the care of these corals,” said Greg Whittaker, Moody Gardens Animal Husbandry Manager.

In 2014, an unidentified coral tissue loss disease was first observed in Miami-Dad County and quickly spread throughout the north areas of the Florida Reef Tract. The disease outbreak continued to persistently spread south of Miami through the Upper and Middle Keys, reaching the Lower Keys by April 2018.

In response to the disease the Florida Wildlife Commission (FWC), National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary (FKNMS), and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) have formed the Florida Coral Rescue Team to execute the Florida Coral Rescue Plan to save what is left of Florida’s healthy coral stocks. Part of that plan includes the Rescue Team reaching out to institutions to house and maintain corals for gene banking and propagation for potential future restoration activities.

The Rescue Plans has two primary goals: prevent ecological extinction of the most susceptible species along the Florida Reef Tract, and maintain as much genetic diversity as possible among approximately 25 species of coral.

“Corals are animals and are highly impacted by their environment. Through this effort we are helping nature respond to a crisis and recover to once again become a healthy ecosystem,” Whittaker said.

In March the Aquarium Pyramid received 250 pieces of live aquacultured rock in preparation for the live corals for the exhibit. Aquacultured rock is rock used to season coral aquariums and prepare them for holding local corals. On April 17, Moody Gardens received the coral entrusted to us and acclimated it to its temporary home inside an exhibit inside the Aquarium Pyramid.

“We are looking forward to being able to educate our guests about the diversity of Florida’s coral reefs and the importance of maintaining a healthy ecosystem for them to thrive,” Whittaker said, adding that this project fits in perfectly with the cornerstones of Moody Gardens’ mission of conservation, education, rehabilitation and research.
The arrival of the live coral into the Aquarium Pyramid appropriately coincides with Earth Day, being celebrated property-wide at Moody Gardens with presentations and crafts on April 20. As part of the Earth Day festivities, the first 100 people starting at 10 a.m. to visit a new Reef Rescue VR Experience will receive two-for-one admission to the attraction. Reef Rescue VR is an interactive high-capacity virtual reality experience where up to 16 people can pilot their own R.O.V.E.R. to help clean up waters, plant new coral branches and feed the fish, returning the reef to complete health in the process.

Moody Gardens is a public, non-profit, educational destination utilizing nature in the advancement of rehabilitation, conservation, recreation, and research.

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