Sweethearts of the North Pacific: Presley and Porter

Porter-&-Presley

One of the Moody Gardens Aquarium Pyramid’s most famous couples is Porter and Presley. These harbor seals met in 2006 and immediately became inseparable.

porter
Porter, male Harbor Seal

Porter, who was rescued as a pup off the coast of Maine after being abandoned by his mother, made his home at Moody Gardens in 2001. He had excellent care by the staff at Marine Animal Lifeline Rehabilitation Center, where unfortunately an infection caused him to lose his eye.

Porter would not hunt the live fish that he was offered, and biologists decided Porter would not be able to survive in the wild. Since he was unable to be released, a search for a new home for him began and Moody Gardens created a home for him at the Aquarium Pyramid.

Young Presley in 2006
Young Presley in 2006

Five years later, Presley joined the Moody Gardens family. After her companion at the Memphis Zoo passed away, caretakers knew the young harbor seal needed a companion. Even though Porter had fur seals and sea lions in his North Pacific Exhibit, the addition of Presley provided better companionship. Two habor seals together provided a more natural situation and made future breeding an option.

In 2011, Porter and Presley had a pup named Riley, after the former President of Moody Gardens Mike Riley. The couple had conceived in the past, but that was their first successful birth.

Presley-&-Rylie
Presley and pup Riley

The newborn seal and first-time mother Presley spent their time together bonding through activities like nursing and exploring their exhibit. Riley has since moved to the Gladys Porter Zoo in Brownsville, where she has two young males to hang out with and possibly have pups of her own.

You can visit Presley and Porter at the Sea of Love Valentine’s Day dinner on Feb. 13 and 14. This romantic dinner includes a three-course meal, rose for her, souvenir photo and Aquarium Pyramid admission. The Feb. 14 dinner also includes a bottle of wine or champagne.

For prices, visit www.moodygardens.com/calendar/aqvalentines.

To reserve your spot, please call 1-800-582-4673 ext. 4368. Reservations are on a first-come, first-serve basis. Calls will be answered and returned daily between 3-4 p.m. RSVP by February 11, 2015.

Here’s Your 2014 Holiday Itinerary:

PLAN YOUR GETAWAY AT THE COOLEST HOLIDAY DESTINATION IN THE SOUTHWEST

With the opening of ICE LAND: Ice Sculptures with SpongeBob SquarePants and the return of the annual Festival of Lights, Moody Gardens has officially become the coolest holiday destination in the Southwest.

With so many attractions to enjoy, the Moody Gardens Value Passes have been a popular choice among guests. For just $59.95, visitors get entry into ICE LAND, Festival of Lights, Aquarium Pyramid, Rainforest Pyramid, Discovery Museum, MG 3D Theater, 4D Special FX Theater and Colonel Paddlewheel Boat. Those wanting to make a weekend visit can also purchase a Two-Day Value Pass for $79.95 and get unlimited entry to everything Moody Gardens has to offer.

So what’s the best schedule if you are planning a vacation to Moody Gardens? Here is a sample itinerary to make sure you don’t miss a thing:

DAY 1

» 9-9:45 a.m. Breakfast at Moody Brews
Located in the main lobby of the hotel, Moody Brews offers a full line of Starbucks beverages, grab-and-go menu items, retail products, free WiFi, laptop work stations and comfortable seating.

» 10-11 a.m. Rainforest Pyramid
Take a tour of the 10-story glass pyramid that is home to more than 1,000 species of plants and animals. You will experience rainforest life from around the world and encounter free-roaming animals, like the cotton-top tamarins and saki monkeys.

» 11:05-11:35 a.m. Discover the Ice Age
Travel back in time to discover a frigid world, covered in ice and occupied by mammoths, saber-toothed cats, cave people and more. The exhibit features life-sized animatronic animals and real fossils within the Discovery Pyramid.

Smilodon-(1)

» 11:45 a.m.-1 p.m. Lunch at Café in the Park at the Moody Gardens Hotel

» 1:30-2 p.m. ICE LAND: Ice Sculptures with SpongeBob SquarePants
Enjoy the coolest new attraction to date when you visit ICE LAND: Ice Sculptures with SpongeBob SquarePants. Being the only holiday ice exhibition on the Gulf Coast, this is a vast and amazing display of 900 tons of towering SpongeBob SquarePants-themed ice creations.

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» 2:15-4:30 p.m. Deep Tissue Massage at the Spa and 9 Holes at the Moody Gardens Golf Course
Send the little ones to a Kid’s Crew activity provided throughout the weekend by the Moody Gardens Hotel and relax at The Spa or play a round of golf at the Moody Gardens Golf Course.

» 5-6 p.m. Festival of Lights Buffet at the Garden Restaurant for Dinner

» 6-6:15 p.m. Pictures with Santa
Be sure to stop by Santa’s Village in the Visitor’s Center lobby and get your picture with Santa Claus!

» 6:15-6:45 p.m. Gingerbread Gardens
Build your own Gingerbread House with the family inside the Visitor’s Center lobby.

» 7-8 p.m. Festival of Lights
Enjoy the mile-long trail of over one million lights and 100 animated displays that winds through the beautiful Moody Gardens property. This is a holiday tradition you won’t want to miss!

FOL-snowman--with-tree-and-lighted-balls

» 8-8:30 p.m. Ice Rink
Grab some rental skates and enjoy the area’s only outdoor ice skating rink.

Day 2

» 8:45-9:45 a.m. Breakfast at Café in the Park

» 10-10:50 a.m. Aquarium Pyramid
Visit four distinct ocean environments in the largest Moody Gardens Pyramid that includes seals, sea lions, sharks, thousands of fish and more than 90 penguins.

» 11-11:45 a.m. Penguin Encounter
Get up close and personal with a penguin during this 45-minute program that takes guests behind the scenes.

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» 12-12:45 p.m. Lunch at the Aquarium Pyramid Food Court

» 1-2 p.m. Colonel Paddlewheel Boat
Take a cruise around Offatts Bayou on this 1800s-style paddlewheel boat.

» 2:30-3 p.m. 4D Special FX Theater
Engage your senses in this theater as you encounter a 20-minute adaptation of Rio 4D or Polar Express 4D.

» 3:15-3:45 p.m. Arctic Ice Slide
Take a slide down this Texas-sized ice slide located outside the Visitor’s Center.

» 4-4:45 p.m. Sky Trail® Explorer Ropes Course
Challenge your agility, balance and strength as you encounter the new five-tier Ropes Course. Children 48 inches and under can also take on an adventure of a smaller scale on the Sky Tykes™ Ropes Course.

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» 4:45-5 p.m. Moody Gardens Zip Line
Snap into the harness, step to the edge of the zip line platform and glide over Palm Beach and the Lazy River 60 feet in the air for a bird’s eye view of the Moody Gardens Pyramids and tropical gardens.

» 5:15-6:15 p.m. Dinner at Shearn’s Seafood and Prime Steaks

» 6:40-8 p.m. MG 3D Theater
Finish out the day watching some holiday favorites, such as Light Before Christmas 3D and Santa vs. Snowman 3D, in the newly enhanced MG 3D Theater featuring the world’s first giant screen 6p laser projector and the largest screen in Texas.

#MGSharkQuest

Find the MG Shark Spots around property, marked by a fin, during Shark U Week and take a picture at each location. Upload to Twitter, Facebook or Instagram using the hashtag #MGSharkQuest to be entered to win a behind-the-scenes shark tour for up to 4 people.

CLICK HERE to download clues

Here’s how the shark quest is going so far:


Moody Madness: CHAMPIONSHIP

There’s still a champion left to be crowned! The real battle is here as we have the Amazon River Otter representing the Rainforest Pyramid face off against the California Sea Lion representing the Aquarium Pyramid. Who will come out on top? That’s all up to you.

MoodyMadnessBracke_Championshipt

CLICK HERE to vote or vote below for your favorite

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Moody Madness: Final 4

Stunning.

That’s the best word to describe the voting results for the Moody Madness Elite Eight.

Both top seeds, the Saki Monkey and the King Penguin, saw their chances of being named Moody Gardens’ favorite animal end in shocking results. The loss was especially tough for the King Penguin, which was defeated by just three votes.

Here were the final Elite Eight results:

MoodyMadnessBracket_Final4_Web

So we are down to the Final Four. Who will be the champion of the Rainforest and Aquarium Pyramids? That’s for you to determine!

CLICK HERE to vote or vote below for your favorites!

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Moody Madness: Elite 8

The Sweet Sixteen of the Moody Madness tournament saw most of the top seeds move on, with the exception of two upsets.

The Cinderella story of the tournament to determine the most popular animal at Moody Gardens continues to be the Two-Toed Sloth. After a surprise win over the Cotton-Top Tamarin, the Sloth pulled out a stunning victory over the Komodo Dragon.

Can the Sloth continue its improbably run against the Giant River Otter? Can the top-seeded White-faced Saki Monkey and King Penguin continue their march to the Final Four? That’s up to you to decide.

Click the image below to see the results from the Sweet 16 round:

MoodyMadnessBracket_Elite8_Web

 

CLICK HERE to vote or vote below for your favorites!

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Moody Madness: Sweet 16

Sweet Sixteen : March 25-27

Just like the first weekend of the college basketball tournament, the first round of the Moody Madness bracket had some thrilling contests. Some of the match-ups came down to the wire in the tournament to determine the most popular animal at Moody Gardens.

Here are the results from Round 1:

MoodyMadnessBracket_Sweet16_Web

Now it’s on to the Sweet Sixteen where the competition steps up a notch. Don’t let your favorite fall short of the Elite Eight. Be sure to vote to this exciting tournament!

CLICK HERE to vote or vote below for the Rainforest Pyramid animals and make sure to click Next when you’re done at the bottom to vote for the Aquarium Pyramid animals on the second page.

Create your free online surveys with SurveyMonkey , the world’s leading questionnaire tool.

2014 Moody Madness

CLICK to download the 2014 Moody Madness Bracket
CLICK to download the 2014 Moody Madness Bracket

Our animals at Moody Gardens are big sports fans. No, really!

Over the years, we’ve had our seals, Saki Monkeys and Komodo Dragons pick the Super Bowl winners. We also have penguins named after sports stars like Biggio and Watt.

So with the NCAA Basketball tournament this week, our animals decided to have a friendly competition to find out which is the most popular.

The bracket features 16 Rainforest Pyramid and 16 Aquarium Pyramid residents. During the next three weeks, you will be able to vote for who you want to advance to the next round. In the end, one Rainforest Pyramid and one Aquarium Pyramid animal will square off to see which is the most popular at Moody Gardens.

Be sure to vote for your favorite animals at Moody Gardens!

VOTING SCHEDULE:

  • First round – March 19-24
  • Sweet Sixteen – March 25-27
  • Elite Eight  March 28-31
  • Final Four – April 1-April 3
  • Championship – April 4-7

CLICK HERE to vote or vote below for the Rainforest Pyramid animals and make sure to click Next when you’re done at the bottom to vote for the Aquarium Pyramid animals on the second page.

Create your free online surveys with SurveyMonkey , the world’s leading questionnaire tool.

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.