The stork was busy in July, visiting Moody Gardens twice in the Rainforest Pyramid with the birth of a Blue Duiker calf and just a week later with a Prehensile-Tailed porcupette.
Our female baby Blue Duiker was born July 22 at just 420 grams to proud parents Basi and Ruben. Soksi is Swahili for “socks”, which is fitting since her front feet are white, giving the appearance that she’s wearing a pair of socks. This is the first pregnancy for Basi and first breeding for Moody Gardens.
Blue Duikers are one of the smallest antelope. They are native to central, eastern and southern Africa and are actually longer than they are tall – reaching 22-35 inches in length and 13-16 inches tall. They can weigh 7-20 pounds and have short, spiky horns on their head.
The stork visited again on July 31, delivering a porcupine, born to mom Cora and dad Bono. This is the second birth for Cora, who delivered her first porcupette last summer. The baby was born with soft hair that will harden into quills with age. Once the quills come in, biologists will send one off to learn the gender of the porcupette.
Prehensile-Tailed Porcupines are native to Central and South America. They are tree-dwelling and typically weigh between 4-11 pounds and their tails are nearly as long as their entire body!
And, that’s not all.
Our Giant River Otters Dru and Ella welcomed Maximo and Manuel to the exhibit this month, doubling the number of otters you can spot inside the Rainforest.
Maximo and Manuel, both 2 years old, came to Moody Gardens from the Los Angeles Zoo, where they were born. The two new male otters will be companions for Dru and Ella.
Be sure to stop by and see all our friendly new faces!
There’s a new group of birds on the block at Moody Gardens and we’re thrilled to introduce them. Meet the Humboldts!
These unique warm-climate penguins hail from the coastal areas of Peru and Chile, but this group will now call the Aquarium Pyramid their new home and are settling in nicely in their new exhibit near the South Atlantic Penguin Habitat, home to the King, Gentoo, Chinstrap, Rockhopper and Macaroni penguins.
Contrary to belief, not all penguins love the cold. The majority of penguin species actually live in warm climates. The Humboldt’s natural habitat is more like a desert, and you’ll easily notice the difference between it and our South Atlantic Penguin Habitat.You’ll be able to see this threatened species above water and underwater, where they can swim up to 30 miles per hour!
The Humboldts are easily recognizable by the black band of feathers across their chest and the pink patches on their face, feet and the underside of their wings. You may think you’re seeing pink feathers, but it’s actually bare skin. Humboldts have to avoid overheating, so when they get too hot, they can shed extra body heat by sending blood to the bare parts of their bodies, thus making them pink.
We’re not only adding new penguins to the aquarium – we’re giving you a chance to see them up close when we bring the Humboldts outside of their exhibit for keeper chats and to interact with guests!
The addition of the Humboldt Penguin Exhibit is just part of the multi-phase $37 million renovation at the Aquarium Pyramid. You’ll get to meet the Humboldts, and their new friends, starting May 27 when Moody Gardens hosts a grand reveal at the aquarium.
Ever wondered what these tuxedo wearing birds enjoy eating? Where they’re from? Celebrated annually on April 25thWorld Penguin Day is a day that is meant to show appreciation to these cool birds and learn things such as biology, origin and more. In honor of this holiday we thought to include some cool information…enjoy!
Worldwide there are currently 17 species of penguin.
These flightless birds can be located mostly in the Southern Hemisphere from Antarctica to other places like South Africa and New Zealand.
Spending the majority of their time in the water their diet consists of seafood life such as fish, squid and krill.
The prominent black/white coat is used as a form of camouflage from predators in the water. From below their white chest blends in against the surface of the water and from above their black back appears like the dark depths of the ocean.
During breeding season most species of penguin will build nests of rocks in preparation of a chick.
Once a penguin has laid an egg most species share the incubation, while the other seeks food.
Once the egg has hatched the chick will begin calling the parents to get them to recognize its voice. As you can imagine this helps a lot when the chick is left with a huge group!
Be sure to stop by the Moody Gardens Aquarium Pyramid, the largest aquarium in Texas. With 1.5 million gallons of water, the building houses life from four distinct ocean environments including more than 80 penguins such as Gentoo, Rockhopper, Macaroni, Chinstrap and King Penguins. Recent upgrades were made to the penguin exhibit earlier this year showcasing a swankier, brighter living space for our little friends.
Finding Mr. or Mrs. Right in today’s day and age isn’t an easy task. With the success of the Internet, dating apps such as Tinder and Bumble have taken the place of matchmaking services for purposes of convenience. The skilled biologists at Moody Gardens have recently added matchmaker to their resumes as they successfully paired up and introduced two fuzzy Cotton-top Tamarins in the Rainforest Pyramid. This is a difficult feat as this process requires information to be sorted through an extensive database to find the ideal match. Both Victor and Gracie immediately took a liking to one another; so much so that he sweetly observed and presented his new lady’s favorite flower to her. Gracie willingly accepted the gift as her afternoon snack.
The Moody Gardens curatorial staff is very hopeful that the two will breed in the future. Tamarins thrive on companionship and usually live in large groups, with sometimes as many as fifteen members. Typically, female Tamarins give birth to non-identical twins and the father will take part in caring for the infant by carrying it on its back. Infant Tamarins are about 15-20% of the weight of an adult Tamarin so it will certainly be an endearing sight to see as you can imagine!
Native to the South American country of Colombia these petite primates spend most of their time in treetops feasting on fruit, bugs and flowers. Approximately 9 inches in height, they are among the smallest of the primates that are easily identified by their white flowing head of hair. Although small, these primates can produce close to 40 different vocalizations when communicating with family or other fellow Tamarins. The Cotton-top Tamarins reside in the Moody Gardens Rainforest Pyramid. This exhibit is home to various birds, mammals, amphibians and reptiles native to the rainforests around the world. Offering canopy and ground level views this immersive environment gives guests a one-of-a-kind experience.
Some people think that age is just a number but at Moody Gardens it is something to celebrate, especially when one of our animals has a milestone birthday!
Wagner is one of 15 chinstrap penguins that we have in our Aquarium Pyramid® and she is the oldest of her species in all of North America! Wagner is turning 32 today which is big deal not only because she is the oldest penguin on this continent but because the general lifespan of her species is only in the mid-twenties.
While living in our South Atlantic Exhibit Wagner generally enjoys spending her time swimming but on her birthday we planned a little something extra. Wagner was presented with a special ice sculpture modeled after the Aquarium Pyramid® that she lives in and she seems to know that it was all about her today. She is typically more aloof. Today, she was frolicking in the water and interacting more and seemed to enjoy her birthday party. The children outside the exhibit also enjoyed her party, as they sang Happy Birthday to Wagner. Please join us in wishing Wagner a very happy 32nd birthday and send her a congratulatory message on being the oldest chinstrap penguin in North America!
Also be sure to see Wagner in person before the penguin exhibit temporarily closes from January 11-March 11 as part of the aquarium renovations. (Don’t worry though; the rest of the aquarium exhibits will still be open during this time.) Before the penguins go on hiatus there is still time to come visit our South Atlantic friends! You can get up close to our penguins as part of the Moody Gardens Public Penguin Encounter. The encounter lasts for 45-minutes and allows you to get up close to one of our penguins like Wagner. During your experience you are led by a Moody Gardens biologist from the front of the exhibit to behind the scenes of the penguin food preparation kitchen and then to the back of the chilly penguin exhibit. This is all while discussing penguin biology, conservation, training, enrichment and care with your Moody Gardens biologist.
Come experience the cool climate and sounds of the exhibit and witness a penguin create a work of art with a penguin painting as part of an enrichment activity for the animal! More information on the Moody Gardens Public Penguin Encounter can be found here. You can even purchase a penguin painting in our Aquarium Gift Shop. Proceeds from the painting go toward animal conservation projects. It’s a very unique gift for the animal lover in your life!
It is with great sadness that we share the news of the death of Presley the Harbor Seal. She died overnight this past week from an Upper Gastric Torsion. This condition can informally be described as the twisting of the stomach that was likely caused by movement or something the animal unknowingly did to itself. As was the case with Presley, it can occur suddenly and without symptoms. At home, some of us may be familiar with the condition as it is fairly common with dogs. Some animals can endure chronic, long-term battles with Gastric Torsion without relief. In Presley case, she had no symptoms and her behavior and appetite were normal throughout the day.
Presley was born in 2005 at the Memphis Zoo. In 2006, we opened our doors and hearts to her as the ideal companion for our Harbor Seal named Porter. Porter is a rescue animal found off the coast of Maine and ineligible for release to the wild. Although Porter had Fur Seals and Sea Lions in his North Pacific Exhibit, the addition of Presley provided better companionship from another seal of the same species for a more natural situation.
Together, the two Harbor Seals bonded and were active and playful in their exhibit. In 2011, the pair had a seal pup named Riley. Riley currently lives at the Gladys Porter Zoo in Brownsville, Texas. Presley and Porter have been a favorite among guests who have come to visit them at the Aquarium Pyramid for nine years. As the staff mourns the loss of this beautiful animal, we know she will be greatly missed by our guests as well. She will be remembered for her gregarious nature and the joy that she brought to so many of us.
Although the Aquarium Pyramid is currently closed for the first phase of renovation, you can watch the seals on our Webcam. You can visit the seals in person when the aquarium temporarily reopens starting November 14, 2015.
Most certainly Presley cannot ever be replaced, but biologists will closely monitor Porter’s behavior and well-being as animals grieve the loss of a companion too. They will work with AZA and the National Marine Fisheries Service to identify a suitable companion.
The Komodo Dragons of Moody Gardens celebrated their fifth birthday with quite the party. Murphy and Diablo, Galveston’s only Komodo Dragons, were surprised with a lizard style birthday cake containing some of their favorite treats including eggs and meat. The crowd gathered around as the zoo keeper team fed them their delicious birthday treat. The dragons also received handmade cards and birthday decorations to enjoy on their special day.
Among the crowd, were two particular guests that had something very special in mind for the dragons. Twins Izzy and Abby have celebrated every birthday with the dragons and visit them frequently. Every year, they bring cards and sing “Happy Birthday,” but this year, they decided to adopt a Komodo dragon from the World Wildlife Fund on behalf of Murphy and Diablo.
“This is such a warm and inspirational happening, one that touches us all here in the Rainforest Pyramid,” said T’Noya Gonzales, Asst. Behavior Management Coordinator.
The Komodo Dragon is the largest lizard species in the world with potential of reaching 10 feet in length and weighing over 150 pounds. Despite their size, these guys are known for their burst of speed. They can briefly reach speeds up to 13 mph.
While the dragons have already had their cake, the celebration will continue. Be sure to stop by and wish them a Happy Birthday!
This week is National Zookeeper Week and Moody Garden’s Life Science and Exhibit Operations department has taken this opportunity to recognize the dedication and hard work that goes into this challenging career path. Moody Gardens would like to thank each and every person on our team for providing the highest level of animal care and well-being while creating personal connections between our guests and our conservation, education and research efforts. The LSEO management team recognized 6 individuals with outstanding animal professional awards. These employees have had a significant impact on Moody Gardens through outstanding dedication, competence, conscientious performance, excellence in engaging guests and ingenuity.
The 2015 Outstanding Animal Care Professionals are: Dave Brossette, T’Noya Gonzales, Karen Holcroft, Marci Kurtz, Maggie Reynolds and Sean Salinger. As evidenced by their dedication to their job, only 3 recipients were present at the awards lunch on Tuesday, 21 July as duty called the others away.
It’s not always easy being a zoo keeper! Good thing we’ve got our very own set of #JurassicZooKeepers to keep everything under control. Our keepers tamed the most ferocious Moody Gardens animals using the Chris Pratt’s Jurassic World training tactic. Okay, they might not be the most ferocious animals but they are still pretty cool:
Do you want to be a #JurassicZooKeeper too? You’re in luck because we also have dinosaurs! Visit our Dinos Alive exhibit and join in on the fun! Share your best #JurassicZooKeeper photo on Facebook, Twitter and/or Instagram using the hashtags #DinosAlive and #JurassicZooKeeper. Ready, set…rawr!
A group of 22 Taveta Golden Weavers are the newest addition to the Rainforest Pyramid! This small, yellow bird is an African (Kenya and Tanzania) species of songbird that weaves oval shaped nests. The males are the nest builders and they usually are colonial nesters. Females pick a mate based on the male’s skill at weaving. The males are already making themselves at home and are working on more than 3 different nests at the moment. Make sure to look up and see if you can spot them next time you visit the Rainforest Pyramid!