Posts Tagged ‘Rainforest Pyramid’

Porcupine Baby Born at Moody Gardens

Friday, July 27th, 2012

Porcupine Baby!

From brightly colored macaws to lounging lizards, more than 200 animal species have made a home in the Rainforest Pyramid at Moody Gardens. And as of yesterday, Moody Gardens has the second prehensile tailed porcupine born onsite since the Rainforest Pyramid’s grand re-opening.

The reddish orange baby was born on the same exact date as its older sibling last year. A quill was sent for DNA testing to determine the gender and after, a name will be chosen. Weighing at 480 grams, the newborn is on exhibit inside the nocturnal gallery of the Rainforest Pyramid.

Here is the mother, Bobby-Sue!

Although the newborn looks as soft as a puppy, the quills will harden within a few weeks. Sharing an exhibit with the mother, Bobby-Sue, the new baby is climbing the trees and exploring the area. Bobby-Sue and the father, Bono, have been together since 2007 and this is their second baby since their introduction into the newly enhanced pyramid.

Prehensile Tailed porcupines are found in the wild in Central and South America. These vegetarian, tree-dwelling rodents usually weigh between four and eleven pounds and their tails are almost as long as their whole body. They are covered in short, thick spines and their body color runs from yellowish to orange to brown. One of their defining characteristics is a small head with a round, bulbous nose which is covered by short and fine hair. They also have whiskers on the face and feet that help in maneuvering around at night.This species is named for their unique tail, which is used a fifth hand to help hold onto branches as they climb throughout the canopy. The last 1/3 of the tail is spineless, enabling the animal to get a better grip on the tree branches. The front and hind feet are modified for grasping, which makes them excellent climbers. One thing they cannot do however is jump.Porcupines have a built-in defense. While most of their body is covered in sharp quills, they are incapable of throwing them, which is a common misconception. These quills will detach easily when touched and imbed into the skin of an enemy. They have also been known to hit and bite their attackers and curl up into a ball when caught. When provoked, they will stomp their hind feet, sit on their haunches, shake their quills and emit deep growls and high pitched cries. These defenses are so formidable that Prehensile Tailed porcupines have the luxury of a longer lifespan and slower reproductive rate than most rodents.

WORLD’S LARGEST FLOWERING PLANT IN FULL BLOOM AT MOODY GARDENS

Thursday, June 14th, 2012

 

Corpse Flower, “Morticia” Intrigues Guests with Two-Day Bloom and Powerful Stench.

Galveston Island, TX (June 14, 2012) — The odor of rotting flesh has never smelled so sweet as “Morticia,” the Giant Corpse Flower officially started to bloom in the evening June 13 at the Moody Gardens Rainforest Pyramid. With a short blooming period of 2 to 4 days, visitors have the rare opportunity to see and smell the Amorphophallus titanum. Native only to Sumatra, Indonesia, it is not only rare in its native habitat, it is extremely rare in cultivation. Fewer than 85 Corpse Flowers have ever bloomed in the United States. Measuring in at 56 inches tall and 40 inches in circumference, this bloom is only the fourth in the state of Texas. Visitors can expect to have their breath taken away in more ways than one.

“The stench and beauty of this plant are equally amazing,” said Donnita Brannon, horticulture exhibit manager at Moody Gardens; who added the staff has been anxiously waiting for the big blooming event to occur since the plant first broke dormancy May 1. “She is even more beautiful than I expected. We are celebrating and invite guests to hurry out to the Rainforest Pyramid to share this experience with us.”

The common name, Corpse Flower, originates from the unpleasant odor the plant emits during flowering. The strong smell that is similar to rotting flesh attracts its pollinators, carrion beetles and sweat flies. It is considered the largest flowering plant in the world, often reaching heights of over 10 feet tall. Technically, it is the largest unbranched inflorescence, containing both male & female flowers.

The plant has a very unpredictable blooming schedule. There is no bloom season and flowers can be produced at any time of year. The Corpse Flower grows from an underground tuber which can weigh up to 200 pounds. A single large leaf that resembles a small tree emerges from this tuber that can grow to more than 20 feet tall. During this vegetative state, the tuber gains energy to produce the massive bloom. The plant then goes into a dormant period for approximately three months. The tuber will then either produce another leaf or a flower as it has at Moody Gardens. Once the tuber breaks dormancy and begins to send up a flower spike, the plant will usually bloom within four to six weeks as it did at Moody Gardens. There are six other Corpse Flower tubers in the Rainforest Pyramid. Brannon hopes to see some of these plants bloom in the future.

The Corpse Flower was first discovered in 1878 by an Italian plant explorer Odoardo Beccari. Upon initial discovery, the plant struck fear into Beccari’s team due to the plant’s tremendous size and smell. It was believed to be a man-eating plant. Beccari took seeds back to the botanical gardens in Florence, Italy and later sent seedlings to The Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew in London, England. The first recorded bloom of the Corpse Flower took place at Kew in 1889. Police had to be called in to control the crowds of people who came to see it.

The first bloom ever recorded in the United States took place at New York Botanic Garden in 1937 where it created a similar response. The same plant bloomed again in 1939. In May 1998, the University of Missouri at St. Louis had a bloom and was the first in this country in nearly 60 years. Due to the plant’s peculiarity, popularity and incredible appeal to growers and collectors in the botanical community, the Corpse Flower began to gain attention in again the 1990s and early 2000s. Since May 1998, there have been 84 recorded blooms in the U.S. at arboretums, botanic gardens, zoos and universities.


Rainforest Pyramid®: Special Hours of Operation

Thursday, June 14: 10 a.m. – 10 p.m.
Friday, June 15: 9 a.m. – 10 p.m.
Saturday, June 16: 9 a.m. – 10p.m.

Click here for more information

“Who ‘nose’ when the Corpse Flower will bloom?” Contest

Wednesday, June 6th, 2012

UPDATE—WINNERS: Lucky 13…today has been declared official bloom date! Only guesses submitted by 2:00pm today June 13, 2012 will be taken in consideration. Email us at communications@moodygardens.com  if we reply to your comment with “WINNER” to claim your prize. Thank you all for your guesses!

Morticia, the Corpse Flower, looks like she’s ready for her bloom! But without a set blooming season, it’s hard to predict when the Corpse Flower will bloom. So who “nose” when the Corpse Flower will bloom and begin its silent and smelly flowering? The first 20 people to guess correctly will win a free ticket to the Rainforest Pyramid to see Morticia!

A Corpse Flower bloom occurs when the spadix, the long, French bread-like stem, emerges from the bud. At that point, the flower will grow four to six inches a day and the strong smell will start to roll in. The strong smell that is similar to rotting flesh attracts its pollinators, carrion beetles and sweat flies. It is considered the largest flowering plant in the world, often reaching heights of over 10 feet tall. Technically, it is the largest unbranched inflorescence, containing both male & female flowers.

The Corpse Flower grows from an underground tuber which can weigh up to 200 pounds. From this tuber, a large single leaf emerges resembling a small tree that can grow to more than 20 feet tall. During this vegetative state, the tuber gains its energy to produce the massive bloom.  The plant then goes into a dormant period for approximately three months. The tuber will then either produce another leaf or a flower as it has at Moody Gardens.

Once fully unfurled, the flower will only last for a day or two. Then the flower collapses upon itself and withers away. The tuber will then go into a dormant period, resting and gaining energy, eventually sending up another tree trunk-like stalk, beginning the incredible process all over again!

The Corpse Flower is under threat of extinction in the wild due to illegal logging and the clearing of rain forest land for cultivation of oil palm plantations. It is our hope that interest in and appreciation of our Earth’s amazing plants and animals will lead to increased efforts at conserving the habitats of these and other rare species.

CONTEST RULES:

Use the information we’ve provided above as well as Morticia’s growth progress, which we update frequently on our Facebook  & Twitter, to guess the exact date that she will bloom. Our horticultural exhibit manager, Donita Brannon, will declare the official bloom date. Here are the rules:

  • Leave your guess in the comments section of this post or tweet us your guess @Moody_Gardens with hashtag #MorticiaContest
  • Only one guess per person.
  • Contest open until flower starts to bloom
  • First 20 people to guess correctly will win two (2) tickets to the Rainforest Pyramid®
  • Only people who guess the EXACT date determined by our horticultural exhibit manager will win

While you’re at it, why not go ahead and like us on Facebook and/or follow us on Twitter.

This promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, Facebook, Inc. Any comments that are inappropriate, offensive, spam or commercial in nature can be deleted by the page admin. Must be 18 years or older to win.

Save the Date: Bats Are Doin’ It

Friday, January 27th, 2012


Throughout 2012 Moody Gardens® will bring attention to an often overlooked, but important animal: the bat. The United Nations has declared 2012 as International Year of the Bat and Bat Conservation International (BCI) as an International Year of the Bat founding partner. Moody Gardens® will be participating throughout 2012 with opportunities for the public to get involved in the conservation mission. The International Year of the Bat campaign aims to raise global awareness about bats, bat conservation and the unique roles bats play in our environment.

The “Bat’s Are Doin’ It” fundraiser will bring attention to the ecological importance of bats such as eating their weight in harmful insects and pollinating many economically valuable crops including bananas and mangoes. Guests will leave with a new appreciation for this misunderstood animal species; which will assist BCI in their efforts to protect bats.

Enjoy a special evening celebrating the mysterious creatures with a tasty bat- themed food and drink menu. The night will include a cocktail party, special guest speaker James Eggers from Bat Conservation International and a tour of the Rainforest Pyramid®. This event will give you the chance to help save an often overlooked animal species while celebrating the special holiday.

SAVE THE DATE: Bats Are Doin’ It: A Fundraiser for Animal Lovers

When: February 11th from 7:00 p.m. – 10:00 p.m.

Where: Moody Gardens Visitors Center

Price: $50 for a single ticket, $90 for two
CLICK HERE TO BUY TICKETS

• Included in the price: Heavy hors’ doeuvres and 2 drink tickets for specialty bat- themed drinks. Each attendee also receives a free “Bats Are Doin’ It” goody bag.

• Other Information: Raffle tickets can be purchased upon arrival to the event. Prices are $5 for 1 ticket or $10 for 3 tickets.Prizes will include various fabulous bat themed packages.

CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD EVENT FLYER

Proceeds raised for the event will be donated to the organization Bat Conservation International. This event is open to individuals who are 21 and above only.

 

RAINFOREST PYRAMID® UPDATE: African Palm Civet

Wednesday, April 27th, 2011

Don’t call her a weasel!  Come meet Zinga, our African Palm Civet who lives in the nocturnal animal exhibit at the Moody Gardens® Rainforest Pyramid®. The African Palm Civet (Nandinia binotata) is a small cat-like relative of weasels and mongooses and is one of the many mammals you’ll meet on your adventure when the Rainforest Pyramid® reopens on May 28th.

African Palm Civets are found in the forests of eastern and central Africa and are threatened due to loss of habitat. They will usually weigh between 3.7 to 4.6 pounds and are brown to light tan in color with a mottled series of darker brown spots. The fur is darker on the top half of the body to help the Civet stay camouflaged in the trees. The Civet also has bare pink pads on its feet to help provide cushioning and friction while they move and hunt. It also has a thick, muscular tail which helps with balance.  These omnivores (both meat and plant eating) will use its back feet and tail to grip and balance on branches while using its front feet to grab and manipulate prey. It will then finish off its prey with a series of fast bites. If the prey is small enough, it may swallow it whole.

Civets are arboreal (tree dwelling), solitary and crepuscular, meaning only active at dawn and dusk. Females will usually give birth to up to four young after two months of gestation. Also, the female’s mammary glands secrete an orange-yellow liquid that turns the mother’s belly and the offspring’s fur orange-yellow. It is thought this is a deterrent for males wanting to mate and to protect the young from attacks. An adult male African Palm Civet may occupy a territory of over 250 acres with up to three females occupying the same territory. Each female will have her own patch of land and will only share it with their offspring. Adult male and female civets hardly socialize, but they will keep track of each other using siren-like calls.

Smell something? Civets have scent glands on their feet and tail that secrete a fruit-like smell. These scents are used for a variety of purposes.

Watch the following video to meet Zinga and come see her and her friends on May 28th at the Rainforest Pyramid®!

(Click here if the following video is not functioning)

RAINFOREST PYRAMID® UPDATE: Northern Tree Shrew

Monday, March 7th, 2011

The Northern Tree Shrew (Tupaia belangeri) is believed to be the closest relative of some of the earliest mammals. These cute little guys are just one of the many species of animals you will encounter when you “Experience Life” in the Moody Gardens® Rainforest Pyramid®.

This type of shrew is found in the forests of Southeast Asia, from India and southwestern China through Malaysia, Borneo and the Philippines. These omnivores (both meat and plant eating) will usually live about two to three years in the wild, but some have been known to live 12 years. The female shrew will usually give birth to two to four youngsters and they will actually build a nest for them in addition to their own! This animal is rare because the mother doesn’t spend a lot of time with the babies. She will not groom them, clean the nest or retrieve them if they are in distress. In fact, experts say she only spends about 90 seconds with her babies every two days!

They are constantly active and must eat often due to their very simple digestive system and because of the amount of energy used throughout the day.  These little creatures (5.5 inches from nose to tail) have an extremely keen sense of sight, smell and hearing and they use these to avoid predators. They are one of the few small mammals who have all highly evolved senses.

Looks aren’t everything; these small mammals have brains too! The Northern Tree Shrew has the highest brain to body ratio of any mammal. Talk about smart! They also have eight different sounds in their vocal repertoire which alarm sounds, defense sounds, etc. Scent marking is also very important to the shrew. They use this to communicate social standing and to mark their territory.

Check this video featuring the Northern Tree Shrew

RAINFORST PYRAMID UPDATE:Rodrigues Fruit Bats

Tuesday, October 26th, 2010

Rodrigues Fruit Bats have made their way to Moody Gardens! This fun and interesting species will be on exhibit in the Bat Habitat inside the newly enhanced Rainforest Pyramid, which opens in May 2011.

The multi-level Bat Habitat will offer viewing opportunities, from the new Rainforest Canopy Walkway down into a subterranean cave environment.

CLICK HERE to watch the video

Interesting Fact:

The species currently numbers just a few hundred in the wild and is classified as critically endangered!