Launch Unwanted Holiday Fruit Cakes and Recycle Christmas Trees at Moody Gardens on Jan. 2

Moody Gardens will host a Fruit Cake Launch and Christmas Tree Chunk on Jan. 2 with a mission to recycle and have some fun.

Conservation is a key part of our mission at Moody Gardens and this event is an example of something simple we can do to raise awareness and be  environmentally friendly in our community. Each year, Moody Gardens collaborates with the City of Galveston in an effort to recycle Christmas trees.  Visitors can bring their bare trees from this holiday season and “chunk” them into a pile to be recycled from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.  The fresh mulch will be used in plant beds around Moody Gardens and throughout the city. Those who wish to can also bring some mulch home with them.

An entertaining new tradition is being added to the event this year.  Visitors are invited to participate in the first annual Fruit Cake Launch from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m.  Rather than re-gifting their unwanted fruit cakes, we welcome people to bring them to launch on one of our two launchers for the chance to win a prize for the furthest flying cake.  The winner will receive a four-pack of tickets to all Moody Gardens attractions along with a Penguin Encounter where they will meet a real penguin. To enter the Fruit Cake Launch contest, visitors need to bring one nonperishable food item or $1 in cash to be donated to Gleanings From The Harvest. Guests may also purchase water balloons to launch for a donation of $1 per two balloons, also to be donated to Gleanings From The Harvest.

The festivities are scheduled to begin at 2 p.m. in the Moody Gardens west parking lot.  The event is open to the public.

At a Glance

Event: Fruit Cake Launch and Christmas Tree Chunk

Date / Time:  Jan. 2, 2010, 2 p.m.

Admission: Free and open to the public, to participate in Fruit Cake Launch please bring one nonperishable food item or $1 cash to donate

Moody Gardens Holiday Golf Tournament Collects Many Toys

Kids'smas Toy Drive at Moody Gardens Golf Course
Kids'smas Toy Drive at Moody Gardens Golf Course

Golfers enjoyed the sport while helping make the holiday season bright for children in Galveston County Sunday, Dec. 20, during the Merry Kids’smas Scramble, a holiday golf tournament combined with a toy drive. This event was brought back to life as a tradition from the Galveston Municipal Golf Course. We collected over 75 new toys including bicycles, games, dolls and trucks for the children of the Resource and Crisis Center of Galveston County.

Players and community members generously donated new toys throughout the month of December, and the toy drive ended with the Merry Kids’smas Scramble Golf Tournament on Sunday. We thank all of you who made generous contributions to benefit the kids in our area.

Moody Gardens Golf Course

Name the Baby Penguin Contest!

Submit a name and you could win a penguin prize package for four and meet a real penguin!

Moody Gardens Penguin ChickEnter one of two ways:

1)    Submit your entry in the Registration Box at the Moody Gardens Aquarium Pyramid
2)    Email your entry to namethepenguin@moodygardens.com (Be sure to include your name, age, phone number and address with your email entry)

Contest dates:  Dec. 18, 2009 – Jan. 1, 2010
Prize Awarded:  King Tux the Moody Gardens Penguin Mascot will choose the winning entry Jan. 3

Please note: Contestants must be accompanied by an adult 18 years or older to use their prize.

Penguins, penguins, penguins… Baby boom continues.

Over in the South Atlantic exhibit at the Aquarium Pyramid, we’ve got big news! We just had our first penguin egg hatching of the season! This kicked off what appears to be the penguin baby boom this season with 24 eggs laid.

Our gentoo penguins Wiley and Marvin are now the proud parents of an adorable 94-gram chick. After around a month of incubating, the egg had a pip hole in it the afternoon of Saturday, Dec. 5. The Moody Gardens penguin biologists kept a close vigil throughout the day on Sunday, making sure the hatching process was going smoothly. Finally, on Monday morning, Dec. 7, we found a new member of our colony! After a quick check-up to get weight and a nice poop on the scale, it was back to mom and dad for our young chick.

Three Gentoo penguin chicks are now a part of the Moody Gardens family.
Three Gentoo penguin chicks are now a part of the Moody Gardens family.

Additionally, our most recent king penguin hatchlings, now all grown up, are bound for the Central Park Zoo. Four of our birds, Lyle, Fred, Ducky DeLorenzo and Julian, left for the Empire State last Wednesday to join the Chinstrap and Gentoo Penguins already residing in the Polar Circle section of the Zoo.

But wait…there’s more!

On Dec. 10, another chick hatched out, this one belonging to our gentoo penguins Casper and Ren! You can view them on the Webcam by checking out the ledge on the far right-hand side of the screen.

Finally, on Dec. 13, Quagmire and Marge’s first egg hatched. This is a very important milestone for our gentoo penguins because Quagmire is the first gentoo born at Moody Gardens to successfully hatch an egg. While their nest is out of range on the PenguinCam, if you visit the Moody Gardens Penguin Exhibit and look to the far left on the ridge above the water, you will be able to get an unobstructed view of the nest. Also, look for the biologists trying desperately to check on the chick and not fall off the ledge and into the 54-degree water! This brings the tally for this season so far up to three hatchings, with several more expected.

Keep checking the PenguinCam to get a gull’s eye view of our colony, and see some of our nests as the breeding season continues.

Stay Cool,
Chris St. Romain
Moody Gardens Penguin Biologist

Free 12 Days of Christmas at Moody Gardens Starts Monday

We are celebrating the 12 days of Christmas by offering you the Free 12 Days of Christmas.

Here are simple steps to receiving the free offers:

First, follow us on twitter at twitter.com/moody_gardens or by searching @moody_gardens on your Twitter account

We have a different offer every day for 12 days, starting Monday, Dec. 14 through Christmas Day, Dec. 25. You can find out what we are giving away the evening of the day before on Twitter.

All you have to do is show the tweet at the Aquarium Pyramid Lobby cashier on the day of the offer. The first 12 people to do so will receive the daily free gift from Moody Gardens. Remember, the offer is only good for the day! The Aquarium Pyramid Lobby ticketing counter opens at 9:30 a.m. every day except for Christmas Day at 12 noon.

Happy Holidays, everyone!


The Gift of Christmas Live Returns to Moody Gardens

The holiday season is a magical time of year, particularly here at Moody Gardens. Amid all the exciting sights and sounds of the season, we’re delighted with the return of The Gift of Christmas Live, a fabulous dinner and show that is quickly becoming a favorite holiday tradition.

An original show commissioned by Moody Gardens, The Gift of Christmas Live features a blend of new and traditional Christmas music, including the signature song “The Gift of Christmas,” composed exclusively for the show. You also don’t want to miss the amazing live creation of an original work of art by renowned artist Rolando Diaz. It is amazing to see Rolando transform a blank canvas into a beautiful work of art right before your eyes. In addition to the piece created each night during the show, a selection of Rolando’s work will be on display before and after the performance.

The show runs Dec. 17 through Dec. 27. Each evening begins with caroling and hors d’oeuvres followed by a three-course dinner; then sit back for a musical presentation that will have you singing in the aisles. This delightful show for all ages features talented artists from across the state of Texas.  In addition to “The Gift of Christmas,” you’ll also get to hear – and sing along with – wonderful renditions of traditional favorites, such as “O Holy Night,” “The Little Drummer Boy,” “Run Rudolph Run” and others.

Special children’s matinee performances will be held Dec. 17. The one-hour matinee show is designed especially for younger audiences and allows them to interact with the cast, engage in fun sing-a-longs, exciting character appearances, and enjoy traditional Christmas snacks, cookies and beverages. The purchase of a Children’s Matinee ticket also includes an open dated voucher for the Festival of Lights and a voucher for one complimentary child’s admission to the Gift of Christmas dinner show.

We invite you to come celebrate the sights and sounds of the season with Moody Gardens, and make The Gift of Christmas Live a tradition for your family!

The Gift of Christmas Live is made possible through the generous support of local hotel and motel tax dollars from the city of Galveston generated to encourage tourism and to further promote arts and entertainment on the Island.

For more information on the dinner and matinee shows, visit moodytickets.com

AT A GLANCE
What: The Gift of Christmas Live – Dinner & Show
When: Dec 17 – Dec 27
Where: Moody Gardens Expo Arena
Who: Families, Couples, Groups
Address: Seven Hope Blvd. Galveston, TX 77554
Information: moodytickets.com, 409-683-4186

New Conservation Program for Youth

Check this out if you are a teen or young adult between ages 14 and 21 – We will soon start a program chartered by the Boy Scouts of America called Venture Crew at Moody Gardens. It is a new initiative to promote education and awareness about the environment through variety of unique conservation activities.

As some of you might know, Moody Gardens is a nonprofit organization, and promoting conservation is one of our important missions. This is a new approach to helping youth learn about the world we live in.

So why should you join Venture Crew? The program focuses on your interest and your way of doing things. You will be able to learn how natural environments function and how human beings can manage their behavior and ecosystems so we can coexist into the future. You will get to pick the conservation topics of your own interest, such as coastal restoration, rain forest conservation and protection of living inhabitants including birds and coral reefs, and participate in activities that go along with your topics. There are also opportunities to attend Venturing camps and trips with other members. But you are not alone; trained Moody Gardens advisors and consultants are here to provide support and share their knowledge in environmental leadership.

Venturing is a nationwide program designed for men and women between the ages of 14 and 21.  Each chapter or Venture Crew focuses on a special interest of choice such as computer science, medicine, engineering or conservation, and is sponsored by community organizations such as local schools, churches, businesses and government, and in this case, Moody Gardens.

If you are interested in getting involved, we invite you to attend the Moody Gardens Venture Crew Open House from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m., Monday, Dec. 7. For more information about the program and the open house, please contact 409-683-4108 or visit http://www.moodygardens.com/get_involved/venturing/.

AT A GLANCE
What:  Venture Crew Open House
When:  Monday, Dec. 7, 7 p.m. – 9 p.m.
Where:  Learning Place, Moody Gardens,
Who:  Teens and young adults ages between 14 and 21
Address:  One Hope Blvd. Galveston, TX 77554
Information:  409-683-4108, moodygardens.org
Summary:
During the Open House, youth will learn about Venturing and Moody Gardens Venture Crew, be able to ask questions, participate in hands-on activities and be invited to join the Crew.

Explore Galveston Wildlife with Birding 201

By: Animal Husbandry Manager Greg Whittaker

Held on the third Saturday of each month, Birding 201 always seems to bring to light the natural beauty of Galveston. The recent Birding 201 trip was no exception, introducing the six participants we had to a great variety of wild birds.

The weather cooperated for this Saturday event. We visited Galveston’s 51st Street viaduct marsh and noted a few early waterfowl and some herons/egrets.  We then crossed over to Pelican Island to visit the TAMUG wetlands area.  The highlight here was a pair of scissortail flycatchers perched on the fence, making for some good photo opportunities before we even got out of the van. Some good looks at black crowned night herons and red-winged blackbirds before we headed east to the Pier 19 dock area, then onto the Corps Woods near the Ferry Landing.  A few smaller birds were there, but not a major hotspot.

We drove east down Seawall Boulevard to the very end, then south through Big Reef and onto east beach.  We completed the loop around Condo Road back to Seawall.  This section of the trip offered the best diversity of species and great behavioral observations of marsh and shore birds as well as a couple pairs of northern Harriers hunting as teams.  By my count, we saw all of 49 species on the trip.   In taxonomic order, we saw:  Pied-billed Grebe, Brown Pelican, Neotropic Cormorant, Double-crested Cormorant, Great Blue Heron, Great Egret, Snowy Egret, Tricolored Heron, Cattle Egret, Black-crowned Night Heron, White Ibis, Roseate Spoonbill, Osprey, Northern Harrier, Broad-winged Hawk, Clapper Rail, American Coot, Black-bellied Plover, Killdeer, Black-necked Stilt, Greater Yellowlegs, Willet, Marbled Godwit, Ruddy Turnstone, Semipalmated Sandpiper, Western Sandpiper, Short-billed Dowitcher, Laughing Gull, Ring-billed Gull, Herring Gull, Caspian Tern, Royal Tern, Black Skimmer, Rock Pigeon, Eurasian Collared Dove, Mourning Dove, Common Nighthawk, Belted Kingfisher, Downy Woodpecker, Eastern Phoebe, Scissor-tail Flycatcher, Loggerhead Shrike, Cliff Swallow, Northern Mockingbird, European Starling, Red-winged Blackbird, Eastern Meadowlark, Great-tailed Grackle, and House Sparrow.

Since the trip, I’ve noted a big influx of migratory species showing up.  Osprey’s have moved in with good numbers, Sandhill Cranes and White pelicans have started to show up, some waterfowl arriving.

Someone also pointed out a Quaker’s Parrot nest on Avenue S just west of 53rd Street on the south side (adjacent to the old police station).  I drove by slowly yesterday and there were several parrots noisily eating the palm fruit in the adjacent tree.

Now is a good time to check out the bird population on the island. Get out and enjoy them while they’re here.

Greg Whittaker is Moody Gardens animal husbandry manager and, as a birding enthusiast, frequently leads free Birding 101 on the first Saturday and Birding 201 on the third Saturdays of each month.

Introducing New Moody Gardens Blog

Holidays are near, and this is an exciting season for us here at Moody Gardens. This year in particular, we have much to celebrate and be thankful for. Our Festival of Lights will be back with more lights and more activities after the island’s remarkable recovery one year following Ike. Newly released, Disney’s A Christmas Carol 3D is a new attempt for us to provide a better visitor experience. We are also pleased to host our new traveling exhibit, Forgotten Gateway: Coming to America through Galveston Island, right here in Galveston. Above all, we are extremely thankful for all our guests and community members for their support that has allowed us to be where we are today.

In this holiday spirit, we are proud to introduce our Moody Gardens Blog just in time for the season. Our new blog discusses anything and everything about Galveston’s family destination. From the depth of four oceans, the delicate beauty of the rainforest to the three-dimension giant screen, Moody Gardens insiders are here to share with you all things Moody Gardens. We hope to give you new ways to connect with us and share your ideas.

Happy Holidays!