Pyramids of Love: Rainforest (Part 2)

Join us this week as we take a closer look at the Pyramids of Love at Moody Gardens! Learn about the intricate relationships and courtships that take place in the animal kingdom throughout the week on our blog and look for our trivia questions on Facebook & Twitter for chance to win Aquarium and Rainforest tickets. Make sure to stop by February 14-16 for Valentine’s Day themed animal enrichment and presentations at the Aquarium and Rainforest Pyramids.

LOVE KNOWS NO BOUNDARIES

There’s plenty of love to discover within the Rainforest Pyramid! Here’s a look at the relationships between some of our most popular animals:

 

IMG_3343Prehensile-tailed Porcupine

Letting a love interest know how you REALLY feel about her

It’s not every day that female porcupines are interested in mating. It’s estimated the time is only 8-12 hours a year! That gives little time to make a great first impression. So what does the male do? The most bizarre thing imaginable; he soaks her with urine. If the female doesn’t enjoy this unusual advancement, she’ll just give a shriek of disgust and shake off the urine.

 

IMG_6670Mandarin Ducks

Vanity isn’t everything

The males have a striking ‘nuptial’ plumage, making it easy to distinguish them from the females…however, it doesn’t last long.  Once the breeding season is over, it’s off with the “suit and tie” and the males will enter the ‘eclipse plumage’ phase where they look just like the female.  But while they are all dressed to impressed, they also have to “walk the talk”! These males must perform to their female love interest, not just a dance, but cold calculated courtship display! The males time their moves just right by bowing and vocalizing to suit the females’ choosiness.  With the male’s superb looks and artistic dance, he’s sure to ruffle her feathers, in a good way of course.

 

cOcelots

A mother’s love is so strong

Who said that being a single parent is easy? Female ocelots raise their young on their own for two years. Since ocelots typically only breed every other year and usually produce only one kitten, you know you have to really have love for your young. During this time, the cub is learning what mom does best: hunting, eating, and how to stay alive. A mother’s love is always the best solution.

 

blue macawsMacaws

A painting worth a 1,000 words

How colorful can you get? Most birds use their keen eyesight to distinguish a good mate. Macaws are distinctly, colorful and beautiful.  The vibrancy of their plumage can help a bird looking for love to determine the overall fitness and health of a potential mate.  Hue said looks don’t matter?

 

Blue_Duiker_1 high resBlue Duiker

Love Patrol

Have you ever met a couple that does everything together? Well when duikers mate and form a bonded pair that’s exactly what happens. These tiny deer tend to eat, sleep, raise young and mark territories together. That’s right! Both males and females in a bonded pair will walk around their territory and scent mark.  No, “mine or yours” in this relationship, it’s all ours!

 

cotton top tamarins pairCotton-Top Tamarin 

A loving mother and father, and uncle, and aunt, and neighbor, and that guy that lives down the road, and mom’s sister’s best friend from high school….

Have you ever had a friend of the family that tells you all sorts of stories about you being young and how cute you were when you were a baby? Cotton-top tamarins do. This species of tamarins cooperatively breed, which means that the dominate breeding pair have offspring that are tended to be all members of the group. Doesn’t matter if you’re the older sibling, or an aunt/uncle, they all help raise the young like their own.  It is believed that this behavior helps offspring to survive to adulthood. Those who are not dominate at the time will receive the same treatment when they’re next in line.  Time for cheek squeezing!!

 

IMG_6643Scarlet ibis

Hi, this is my mother, my father, and their own body guard

Scarlet ibis nest just like any other birds. They build a nest out of twigs and raise young in it, except one little twist. Just a few feet away from the nest is another scarlet ibis who’s watching out for predators.  This is called colonial nesting.  Many individuals may mate and build nests, but everyone has security duty and will rotate (even laying on nests) to be guards. Each sentinel has a duty to alert the rest of the group of when predators are spotted.    Think of it as a couple’s own personal secret service. It’s a loving job.

 

Arapaima

A father’s love has no boundaries, well maybe one

Arapaimas are mouth brooders meaning that they keep eggs and small fry in their mouths. This helps keep predators from eating them, while also making sure the young are all in one place at a time.  The mother isn’t missing from this equation though. She’s protecting the male by continuously being by his side and circling around him and the young when predators are present.  Although this is a very odd way to house your young, many fish do it. For instance, several species of cichlid fish use this same parenting strategy.

Gaboon Viper

Fighting for Love

Sometimes things can’t be settled by looks, by food, or by dances. Sometimes it’s an all out battle for the female. When two gaboon viper males meet during mating season, they have to make sure that they are the only one in that area able to breed with females. So they get into a match of endurance.  They will stand as tall as they can and face each other, each one trying to push the other male down, squeezing him, and trying to tire him out. All in trying to prove to the other male with brute strength that he is the dominate one.

IMG_0107Giant River Otters

Big brother and big sister love

Those of us who have brothers and sisters all know how hard they can be on us from time to time. Although in the end, they still love us no matter what. If you take a look at the Giant River Otters and look closely at their groups out in the wild, you’ll realize they are mostly made up of the same family group. The mother and father will give birth to offspring that stay with the family group, even after maturity.  These older offspring stay on in the family for hunting, security, and most importantly to help raise the next set of kids.

 

Pyramid of Love: Aquarium

Join us this week as we take a closer look at the Pyramids of Love at Moody Gardens! Learn about the intricate relationships and courtships that take place in the animal kingdom throughout the week on our blog and look for our trivia questions on Facebook & Twitter for chance to win Aquarium and Rainforest tickets. Make sure to stop by February 14-16 for Valentine’s Day themed animal enrichment and presentations at the Aquarium and Rainforest Pyramids.

Enjoy several keeper presentations inside the Aquarium Pyramid including South Pacific exhibit dives at 11:30 a.m. and 3 p.m. penguin feedings at 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. and seal feedings at 10:30 a.m. and 2 p.m., as part of the weekend extravaganza. 

Let’s take a closer look at the relationships among the beloved penguins, seals & sea lions of the Aquarium Pyramid:

PENGUIN LOVE:

King Penguin twoFun Facts :

  • All of Moody Gardens’ penguins have an annual breeding season.
  • Most penguin species are monogamous (one male breeds with one female during a mating season), but may not mate for life.
  • Both the male and female take turns incubating the egg(s), except for Emperor Penguins, in which only the male incubates it.
  • Incubating time varies from one month to 62 days.
  • All of our smaller species build nests out of rocks and usually lay 2 eggs.
  • King penguins carry their 1 egg on their feet.

IMG_2023Look for these penguin courtship behaviors:

  • Ecstatic Displays- vocalizations, head swinging, stretching head and neck upward with flippers held outstretched.
  • Bowing-  One or both of the penguins dips its head and points its bill at the    nest or at the other bird’s feet.

 

SEALED WITH A KISS:

PorterHarbor Seal Courtship:

  • Harbor seals usually return to the same breeding grounds every year.
  • Males and females exhibit pre-mating activity such as rolling, bubble-blowing, and mouthing each other’s necks.
  • During the mating season, male harbor seals exhibit underwater vocal displays.
  • After the pupping season, males initiate true mating behavior by chasing, neck- and flipper-biting, and embracing.
  • Females respond by growling, head-thrusting, and flipper-waving.

IMG_1246Sea Lion Courtship:

  • California sea lions tend to breed on the same section of beach year after year.
  • Successful mating has been observed in males as young as two years.
  • A male with an established territory breeds with an average of 16 females in one season.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pyramids of Love: Rainforest (Part 1)

Join us this week as we take a closer look at the Pyramids of Love at Moody Gardens! Learn about the intricate relationships and courtships that take place in the animal kingdom throughout the week on our blog and look for our trivia questions on Facebook & Twitter for chance to win Aquarium and Rainforest tickets. Make sure to stop by February 14-16 for Valentine’s Day themed animal enrichment and presentations at the Aquarium and Rainforest Pyramids.

LOVE IS IN THE AIR…LAND AND WATER

As you enter the Rainforest Pyramid, you not only enter a living and breathing Rainforest, but you also get a glimpse of the relationships taking place between the many different species of animals and plants. Whether it’s an animal in the water or the air, take the time to observe how they interact with each other and you’ll see that there’s plenty of love going around. Here’s a few to lookout for during your next visit:

Pygmy LorisPygmy Slow Loris

We all have lovers that are crabby at some point

Female lorises tend to be a bit crabby and aggressive during mating season, usually lunging and vocalizing at males who are trying to court. Love is love, no matter if you’re happy or sad.

 

 

Rainforest 116Poison dart frogs

Talk about a ‘match’ made in heaven

Both males and females are territorial and will wrestle other individuals and possible love interests for the title.

 

 

 

Jacksons Chameleons

Do you have the right moves?

When the male has found a love interest and wants to court her, he simple just dances. This isn’t just any type of dancing – you have to have the right moves! Head bobs and pop-locking is what really peaks the females interest. If you don’t have the right moves, the male will be met with a disapproving color change and an unreceptive female. Talk about getting shut down!

 

Emperor Scorpions

Dancing the night away

How do these suave males win the hearts of the female companions? The dance floor of course. The “promenade à deux,” is a dance in which the male grabs the female’s pincers and then proceeds to dance around seeking the approval of his spicy dance partner. Once approve has been met, they then continue their salsa to find a suitable area in which to copulate.

 

Damaraland mole rats

Ants and bees don’t have anything on this queen.

Lots of men refer to their mates as queens, mostly as a term of endearment, but for Damaraland mole rats, it’s the truth! This species of mole rat resemble the social structure of that of bees and ants.  Females are not born queens though; they have to fight for the title from other females. Like ants and bees, all mole rats have a certain job in the colony. You have your lovers, your fighters, your gatherers, and your builders.  All our partners deserve the royal treatment every once and a while.

 

EgyptFruitBat2Egyptian Fruit Bats

The apple never falls far from the tree

After a mother gives birth to her young, they carry them around on their underside until the pup is able to roost on its own. Although this isn’t the time that the parents kick the kids out of the house. Usually the offspring stay in the same bat colony in which the parents already live in. Love isn’t always about finding your one and only – sometimes its family!

 

Vampire batVampire Bats

Dinner time love

Vampire bats have a bad rap about being filthy blood suckers, but actually, they are some of the sweetest animals around. When it comes to helping your mate, friend, or neighbor in the colony, these bats win! If one bat in the colony isn’t able to find food at feeding time, no worries, they’ll just head back to the colony and snuggle up to a friend for dinner. Vampire bats provide an altruistic behavior (you do something for me and I’ll do something for you) to their neighbor; they regurgitate blood so that they can live on to the next feed. Without this behavior many individuals would die off very fast in the colony. Fewer mates means less offspring. No doggy bag needed. Check Please!

 

Malagasy Jumping Rats

The best parents EVER!

What makes this species such a great family household to grow up in? These mothers and fathers are among the few monogamous rodent species in existence today. Both parents raise their young together, and if one mate dies, the other will find love again. Usually waiting until another caller comes investigating the home burrow.

 

Piranha

Love isn’t always colorful

When two individuals find themselves in love, they don’t go through glorious color changes like other fish species, they turn almost completely black. This isn’t so much as a warning, but is theorized to be a mode of discouraging other individuals from courting. Think of it as a clear sign of “Hey, I’m taken.”