Author: Moody Gardens (page 30 of 33)


You “otter” see this! Come meet the newest residents of Moody Gardens® when life emerges on May 28th at the Rainforest Pyramid®. On your adventure you’ll meet Dru, Ella and Yzma, three Giant Otters (Pteronura brasiliensis) who came to Moody Gardens® on December 17 of last year.

Giant Otters are a carnivorous mammal native to South America and found mostly in the Amazon River and the Pantanal, which is an area of tropical wetland in Brazil. Otters are members of the weasel family (Mustelidae) and have the longest body length in the species. In some cases, males have reached reported lengths of over seven feet. Males in general will be about 4.9 to 5.9 feet, while females will reach lengths of about 4.9 to 5.6 feet.

These noisy mammals have the shortest fur of all otter species and it’s usually chocolate-brown, reddish or fawn in coloration. This fur is extremely dense so much so that water cannot penetrate to the skin. Guard hairs trap water and keep the inner fur dry. These hairs are about one third of an inch long and are twice as long as the fur of the inner coat. Giant Otters also have unique markings of white or cream colored fur on the throat and under the chin, which allows individuals to be identified from birth. It is believed that these markings are used by the otter to identify each other. When meeting each other for the first time, otters will engage in a behavior known as “periscoping”. When “periscoping”, otters will pop their heads and chests out of the water to display their markings to the other. They are also characterized by their small, rounded ears and their short and stubby legs that end in large webbed feet equipped with very sharp claws that help them catch prey.  Giant Otters also have highly sensitive whiskers (vibrissae) that track changes in water pressure and currents, which aids in detecting prey.

Giant Otters are diurnal, which means they are active exclusively during daylight hours. They are excellent hunters and have extremely keen senses of smell and sight. They are apex predators, meaning they have no serious natural enemies. A Giant Otter’s diet usually consists of fish, but they have also been known to eat crabs, snakes and even small Caimans. These natives of South America like to talk too.  They are the noisiest of any otter species and they have vocalizations that indicate alarm, aggressiveness and reassurance just to name a few.

This species of otter is unusually social for a member of the weasel family. In Spanish, they are known as Lobos Del Rio(Wolves of River) and Perro de Agua (Water Dog) because they live and hunt in packs like canines. They can live in groups of anywhere from two to twenty, but the average group size is three to eight. These groups are strongly cohesive. Members will sleep, play, travel and feed together. Group members will share roles, structured around a dominant breeding pair. This species is highly territorial and they will mark their territory with latrines, gland secretions and vocalizations. Dens are built into the riverbanks and are usually equipped with multiple entrances and chambers. After a 65-70 day gestation period, females will give birth to around one to five pups. After two years the young otters reach full maturity and will leave the family group permanently.

Giant Otters have been categorized as endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) since 1999 as a result from poaching and loss of habitat. Moody Gardens® is one of six zoos and aquariums in North America that feature Giant Otters.

Watch the following video to learn about Dru, Ella and Yzma’s journey and see how they are adapting to their new home here at Moody Gardens. (Click here if the video below is not working.)

Easter in the Gardens Returns!

Are you still on the hunt for Easter plans? We’ve got you covered! Join us for our annual Easter in the Gardens this Easter Sunday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Moody Gardens. We are also hosting not one, but two delicious Easter buffets that the entire family can enjoy!

Easter in the Gardens:

We have lots of exciting activities for the kiddos to enjoy! Starting with our very own petting zoo where children can get up close and personal with some cute and cuddly animals such as chicks, bunnies and miniature ponies. The fun doesn’t stop there, there will also be arts & crafts, music, face painting and games & prizes.

Whatever you do, just make sure you don’t miss one of our two Easter Egg Hunts where children 12 and under can enjoy the pursuit of brightly colored, candy-filled happiness (otherwise known as eggs!). Egg hunts will take place at noon and 2 p.m. in the Oleander Bowl. Participants are invited to have their picture taken with the Easter Bunny inside the Moody Gardens Hotel so make sure to bring your camera!

Easter Buffets:

In addition to all of the activity outdoors, guests can enjoy a first-class meal at the Easter Sunday buffet in both the Garden Restaurant and at the Moody Gardens Hotel. While walk-ins are welcome at the Garden Restaurant, reservations are required for the Hotel buffet and can be made by calling 409-741-8484, ext. 4465.

The Garden Restaurant buffet will feature shrimp Victoria, pecan-crusted mahi-mahi and chicken le garde on a bed of creamy marsala with an assortment of sides, breads and desserts for only $21.95 for adults, $17.95 for seniors, and $11.95 for children (children 4 and under are free with complimentary adult purchase). Click here for a full menu and more information or call 1-800-582-4673 extension 4238.

The Moody Gardens Hotel will serve chilled shrimp and crab claws, roasted leg of lamb, prime rib of pork, carved roast sirloin and herb and parmigiano tilapia – all with an assortment of sides, salads and desserts for $38.95 for adults, $29.95 for seniors and $17.95 for children ages 4-12 (children under 4 are free). Click here for a full menu and more information or call 409-741-8484, extension 4465.

We wish everyone a happy and safe Easter and we hope you can all join us! If you have questions, comments, concerns, fun Easter stories/plans/traditions you want to share, then don’t hesitate to leave us a comment below!

RAINFOREST PYRAMID® UPDATE: White-faced Saki monkeys

At Moody Gardens, we don’t monkey around. But, we have some residents of the rainforest who do. White-faced Saki monkeys will be roaming the tree tops of the rainforest along with many other fascinating creatures when the Rainforest Pyramid opens May 28th.

White-faced Sakis (Pithecia pithecia) are found in Brazil, French Guyana, Suriname, Venezuela and Guyana. These small monkeys are usually about two to three pounds and can measure up to 29 inches long. They are arboreal (tree living), active during the day and rarely go to the ground. Some have even been found 2,300 feet up in the canopy! These monkeys are fast moving and shy, so very little is known about their behavior in the wild. What we do know is that they eat fruit, leaves, flowers, small birds and small mammals and they move mainly in leaps. Jumps of over 32 feet have actually been recorded by these tiny leapers!

Adult male Sakis are black with a white face and females are a brownish gray color with a narrow stripe on their face between the inner eye and mouth. These monkeys are dichromatic (males are different colors from females) which is a rare trait among Central and South American primates. They have long shaggy coats that protect them from rain and non-prehensile, bushy tails.

These monkeys live in small family groups consisting of the parents and usually two to three offspring. After a 146 day pregnancy, the infant Saki will be born and males and females will have the same brownish gray coloration of the mother. After two months, males will start to take on the coloration of the father. The infants are carried in the flexure of female’s thigh for the first few weeks, but will gradually be carried on the back of the mother.  Sakis communicate by bird-like chirping sounds and they display aggression by fluffing up their body hair and vigorously shaking their body while stomping their feet.

The status of these animals in the wild is vulnerable. Deforestation leading to loss of habitat, as well as these animals being hunted has led to them being threatened. So, come see Frankie, Clyde and Lionel when life emerges on May 28th!

Please see the video below to learn more about these interesting inhabitants of the rainforest (or click here if no video below).


My, what big eyes you have! While you won’t find Little Red Riding Hood in the Rainforest Pyramid, you will find the Pygmy Slow Loris (Nycticebus pygmaeus). This prosimian (before the monkeys- or primitive primate) is just one type of the many primates you will encounter when life emerges at the Rainforest Pyramid on May 28th.

Pygmy Slow Lorises are found in the rainforests of Cambodia, China, Laos and Vietnam. They are extremely endangered in Vietnam, where decades of military activity have damaged their habitat. (as well as more recent habitat destruction)  These nocturnal, tree dwelling primates survive on a diet of insects, fruit, slugs and snails. During the day you might see one curled into a tight ball clinging to a branch high up in the rainforest canopy.

These small creatures (18-21 cm long) are characterized by their round head, large eyes, small ears, stumpy tail and their short and wooly fur. The Pygmy  Slow Loris also has front teeth that are arranged to provide a comb like structure called a “tooth comb” that is used to scrape resin from a tree and to clean its fur.  In addition to the tooth comb, they also have an under tongue that contains hardened points of horn. This second fleshy comb is used to clean the tooth comb.

Lorises are mainly solitary animals, only coming together to mate. The female will usually give birth to one or two babies every 12 to 18 months after a gestation period of 190 days. For the first seven months, the youngling will cling to its mother and it will nurse for six weeks. Young lorises may call to their mother using a series of clicks and squeaks when in d istress. For the most part, vocal exchanges are limited to remain inconspicuous and communication is mainly carried out by scent marking.

People say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. The Pygmy Slow Loris must be out to flatter reptiles. When threatened, they will imitate an angry cobra by hissing, whistling and moving in the deliberate manner of a serpent. If the threat continues, they will deliver a toxic bite to its aggressor. The bite is toxic due to glands inside of the elbow that secrete a toxin. The loris will lift its arms up and lick up the toxin before delivering the painful bite.

Another interesting fact is that lorises have specially adapted blood vessels in their hands and feet that allow them to hold onto branches tightly for many hours at a time, even when sleeping.  They will walk slowly (thus the name) but surely on the branches, carefully putting one foot in front of the other. As sluggish as they appear, they are excellent climbers and very quick and accurate when hunting prey.

The name “loris” is believed to be derived from the Dutch word “loeris”, which means clown because their eyes and facial markings resemble a clown’s makeup.

Check out our video featuring the Pygmy Slow Loris!


Has the rainforest gone to the birds? You might think so after you meet some of our winged friends who will call the pyramid home when it re-opens May 28th.

First, let’s forage the forest floor with the Victoria Crowned Pigeon (Goura victoria). This relative of the now extinct Dodo makes its home in the Asian rainforests in Indonesia and Papau New Guinea. It is the largest living pigeon and can be just as tall as a turkey!  This bluish bird has a large crest of feathers on its head that can be raised, that’s where “crowned” comes from in its name. To find food, they forage the rainforest floor for fruit, seeds and snails. Victoria Crowned Pigeons are monogamous and mate for life. They lay one single white egg each year and it’s incubated by both mom and dad. This pigeon, along with flamingos produce crop milk to feed their young.

Now, let’s soar the canopy with Crested Oropendola (Psarcolius decumannaus). These birds are native to South America and are quite small compared to the Victoria Crowned Pigeon. They will usually about 13 to 17 inches long when fully grown. The Crested Oropendola will nest in large colonies of about 100 or more to stay protected from predators. Their main food sources include: grain, seeds, fruit and nectar. In order to protect their babies, these birds weave a spherical nest made of grass and palm that can be three to six feet long!

Next, we’ll listen to the call of the Blue Bellied Roller (Coracias cyanogaster). These small, agile flyers dwell in western and central Africa, from Senegal to the southern Sudan. These social birds live in small groups of three to seven and hunt their prey by dive bombing them from about 30 feet up in the trees. You can spot the Blue Bellied Roller by its distinctive blue, black, pinkish cream and teal coloration. They get their name from the rolling pattern of flight used during courtship.

Did you know that in spite of its name, the Speckled Pigeon (Columba guinea) also called a “rock pigeon” does not need cliffs for nesting? This African pigeon is bluish-gray in coloration with cinnamon-brown on some parts of its neck, mantle and wing coverts. It gets its name from the white speckles on its wings. They breed all year long and often live in pairs, but they are also known to flock together with more than 100 others when not breeding.

Finally, we’ll take a look at the striking red patch on the chest of the Bleeding Heart Dove (Gallicolumbia luzonia). This shy bird is native to the forests of the Philippines and it spends most of its time searching the forest floor for seeds, berries, insects and other invertebrates. This dove builds its nest about three to five feet above the ground and both the male and female spend time incubating the eggs. Did you know pigeons and doves drink differently than most birds? They submerge their beak in water, suck up the water and swallow, without the need to raise their head between sips.

Check out our video featuring some of the birds you just read about!

Dora & Diego’s 4-D Adventure: Catch that Robot Butterfly!

Dora & Diego’s 4-D Adventure will be opening March 12, 2011 in our 4D Special FX Theater, just in time for Spring Break!

Dora, Diego and Boots need your help to protect the animals of the rainforest from Swiper’s out-of-control Robot Butterfly! ¡Vámonos! The Robot Butterfly is swiping the water and plants that the animals need. Join your adventurous amigos on Nickelodeon’s high-speed, eye-popping chase from the tropical rainforest to the icy Arctic! Let’s catch that Robot Butterfly and protect the rainforest!

Visit for more information or to purchase tickets.

Starting March 12, 2011
Daily: 12:30 p.m., 1:30 p.m., 2:30 p.m., 3:30 p.m., 4:30 p.m.

Watch a sneak peek here:

© 2011 Viacom International Inc. All rights reserved. Nickelodeon and all related titles, logos and characters are trademarks of Viacom International Inc


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


The Brazilian Agouti (Dasyprocta leporina aguti), is one of the free roaming creatures that you will catch a glimpse of when Moody Gardens’ Rainforest Pyramid® exhibit reopens in May 2011!

This relative of the guinea pig is found in the rainforests of Brazil and it is the only mammal that is known to crack a Brazil nut with its teeth. Brazil nuts, fruits, vegetables and greens are the typical food staples for the Agouti.

The Agouti is a member of the rodent family, but unlike most rodents it walks on its toes and not flat footed. It can also jump up to six feet in the air from a standing position. Talk about air time!

Brazilian AgoutiIn the Amazon rainforest the Agouti is the only species responsible for reseeding the forest with Brazil nuts, which ensures the growth of a whole new generation of trees. They do this by hiding seeds in various locations around their territory.

In the wild, Agoutis are very shy and nervous animals that often live in burrows or hollowed out tree trunks to avoid predators. They survive through their keen sense of hearing and it’s said they can even hear fruit hitting the rainforest floor!

The Agouti is fairly social within their species. They often live and travel in small family groups and even pairs during mating season.

Check out our video featuring our new Agouti here!

Love is in the air at Moody Gardens!

It’s officially February and that means Valentine’s Day is just around the corner. If you are looking for a special way to spend Valentine’s Day weekend, look no further! Whether it’s a romantic dinner cruise, relaxing couple’s massage or a full-on wedding, Moody Gardens has some romantic and unique options that will make this Valentine’s Day truly memorable.

First on the list is the absolutely amazing Valentine’s Retreat package offered by the Moody Gardens Hotel. This package includes a spectacular guest room for two for one night, champagne and chocolate covered strawberries, a long-stem red rose, breakfast for two in room or at the Terrace Restaurant, late checkout and complimentary valet parking, and the unforgettable option of celebrating your love with a wedding ceremony!

As part of the exclusive Valentine’s Retreat package, couples can celebrate their love for one another by exchanging or renewing their vows on February 12. The complimentary ceremonies will be performed by an ordained minister and all couples exchanging vows can invite up to 50 guests to join them for a Grand Reception at 7 p.m. The Grand Reception will feature complimentary hors d’oeuvres, a giant wedding cake and a cash bar. Don’t miss out on this great opportunity to live your very own fairy-tale!

The Valentine’s package is $249+tax per night and is available for February 11 & 12. All ceremonies will be performed by appointment on February 12 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. For more information or to book your Valentine’s Retreat, call 888-388-8484 or visit

Treat yourselves to a romantic four course dinner at Shearn’s, one of Galveston’s finest restaurants, located on the ninth floor of the Moody Gardens Hotel. To start off, the special Valentine’s Day menu will include the option of Grilled Diver Scallops or Pan Seared Quail and soup or salad. Entrée options include Prime Filet Mignon, Dry Mushroom Coated Red Snapper Fillet or Petit Prime Filets Mignon. Lastly, enjoy a decadent duet of Chocolate Cream Tart and White Chocolate-Raspberry Bread Pudding for dessert. Come savor this delicious meal with your loved one on February 12th and 14th. Prices are $80 per person. Click here for a more detailed menu or call 409-741-8484 for reservations.

The Spa at Moody Gardens can add romance and relaxation to your intimate Island getaway with indulgent Valentine’s specials. Relax with a Champagne & Roses Pedicure that includes an effervescent champagne foot soak with organic rose petals while enjoying complimentary champagne and gourmet chocolate truffles for only $55.00. You can also enjoy a delicious Chocolate Dipped Strawberry Massage that begins with a sensual 50-minute warm chocolate back treatment and soothing strawberry oil scalp massage. Chocolate truffles and champagne complete this sweet treat. To rekindle the romance, enjoy this divine service for two in our romantic private couples’ suite.  This massage package is priced at $150 for individuals and $275 for couples. For additional details or spa appointments, call 409-683-4440.

You can sail away on the romantic Colonel Paddlewheel Boat Dinner Cruise. This 1800-style Paddlewheeler provides the perfect setting for a romantic night with your valentine. Dance the night away and have a delicious dinner buffet while enjoying the beautiful views of Offatts Bayou. Dinner cruise is on February 12 and will include dinner buffet and cash bar. Boarding will be from 7 p.m.-8 p.m. Please make your reservations by Wednesday before the scheduled dinner cruise at 1-800-582-4673 extension 4419. Cost is $65.00 per person.

Click here for more information about the Valentine’s Retreat Package, Shearn’s Valentine’s Day Menu and Spa Valentine’s specials.

Click here for more information about the Colonel Paddlewheel Boat Dinner Cruise.

Don’t miss out on the chance to make this Valentine’s Day Weekend unforgettable!


Moody Gardens is thrilled to have these playful and interesting birds free-roaming inside the Rainforest Pyramid when Rainforests of the World opens in May 2011. Check out the video and read the fun facts to learn more about this amazing species!

Click here to watch the Lady Ross’ Turaco Video!

Lady Ross turaco

Fun Facts:

Turacos are a food source for many animals larger than themselves. They are so abundant in Africa that they are considered a pest. Their feeding habits are very destructive, which annoys most gardeners. However, they aid in seed dispersal by messily eating fruit. They also eat berries that are considered highly poisonous to humans.

Turacos are the only birds to possess true red and green color. When you look at most birds, the color you are seeing is a reflection produced by the feather structure. The turaco’s red and green pigment both contain copper. In fact, if you stirred a glass of water with a red turaco feather, the water would turn pink!

Both the male and female share time incubating their clutch. Both parents also feed the downy chicks by regurgitation. They keep the nest clean by eating the eggshells and the chick’s droppings. The chicks will not develop the full adult coloration until about one year

Lady Ross’s turacos are very social birds, moving in small noisy flocks. They spend their life among trees in search of fruit until evening when they nest solitary on a platform of twigs.

These birds have mobile outer toes, which they are able to rotate forward or backward!


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