Category: Uncategorized (page 1 of 12)

Eskimo Curlew sighted at Galveston Island State Park!


By: Animal Husbandry Manager Greg Whittaker

5 years after I sent an April fool’s email to several of my local birding colleagues, I can dust off the prank and repurpose it with a more tangible meaning. The World’s a strange place right now and we’re all searching for those anchors of “normal” to help us make sense of things. Perhaps our Lost Bird Project Eskimo Curlew sculpture can be a reminder to us all that what once was, may not be, and what is, may disappear.

Insert joke about finding irony in a metal sculpture. It may be fittingly ironic that a half century after the last of its living namesakes disappeared quietly and unnoticed from this Island, and Earth, we have its memorial reappear with a similarly eerie lack of attention and fanfare.

This is not by design. The community support around this momentous event warranted a party, a celebration, wide ranging acclaim for the installation of this 7’ bronze beauty. This was our chance to showcase our chapter in the nation-wide project designed to focus attention on how Humans can have profoundly bad effects on the natural world when we don’t cherish things around us.

Todd McGrain’s vision to create stoic reminders of our fellow American’s past bad choices and nudge us just a little bit towards caring for what we see in our back yards is now part of our own Island’s heritage. The first 5 chapters of the Lost Bird Project are also here in Galveston, but again the planned spotlights and fireworks around this really cool opportunity were snuffed out by a miniscule marauder reminding us all of our fragile existence and mortality. Nature doesn’t value species, races, clans or individuals as any more or less important, but simply and methodically moves forward with all the beautiful chaos and dynamic change that has always been in play.

Within the guidelines of social distancing, please go outside, breathe the spring air, soak in the sun, and listen to the chorus of migrating birds on their annual April visit. If you get the chance to go to the Galveston Island State Park to see our new nature tourism treasure, spend the time to feel the spiritual connection to the natural space. Be safe.

Greg Whittaker is Moody Gardens animal husbandry manager and, as a birding enthusiast, frequently leads free Birding 101 and Birding 201 tours around the island.

Moody Gardens Attractions Close Temporarily in Compliance with City of Galveston Order for Entertainment Venues in Response to COVID-19




Galveston, Texas (Updated March 24, 2020) — In compliance with an order issued for entertainment venues by the City of Galveston, Moody Gardens is temporarily closing its attractions. This order was issued on March 17  for the implementation of control measures to control the community spread of Corona/Covid 19 virus.

As a precautionary measure to further combat the potential for community spread, Moody Gardens’ officials decided to extend that period to 10 days until March 28 and will now remain closed until the order by the City of Galveston is lifted. The closure impacts the Moody Gardens attractions. The Moody Gardens Hotel closed on March 22 and will reopen on June 1. Moody Gardens Golf Course will remain open and will be following CDC guidelines regarding social distancing.

“We value the community of Galveston and the safety of our guests and staff is always our highest priority,” said John Zendt, president and CEO of Moody Gardens, who added that key staff will report to work to care for animals and the facility.

For more information, please call 409-744-4673 or visit

Moody Gardens® is a public, non-profit, educational destination utilizing nature in the advancement of rehabilitation, conservation, recreation, and research.

Moody Gardens Offers Wildlife Engineer Camps Where Campers Explore Zoological Fields and More!

Summer camp is the ideal opportunity to explore a child’s interests and Moody Gardens Pyramid Kids Camps offers a variety of unique options, including how to Become a Wildlife Engineer. These interactive day camps provide children with the perfect opportunity to learn what it means to work in the zoological field. Campers will get to participate in design challenges, conduct experiments, create works of art inspired by nature and visit the Moody Gardens’ attractions.


“We have tons of opportunities with our resources here at Moody Gardens to provide a place for children to foster their imaginations and continue to learn even when they are taking a break from school,” Moody Gardens Education Curator Lisa Stegman said, adding that education is one of the cornerstones of Moody Gardens’ mission.


The fun continues with the following camps scheduled for 2020:

Preschool Camps

3-5 year olds

10 a.m.-12 p.m.

June 6 – Sea Lion Scientists

August 1 – Coral Construction Workers


Wild Marvels Day Camps

Kindergarten-2nd Grade

8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m.

June 15-19 – Seaside Safari I

July 13-17 – Seaside Safari II

August 3-7 – Seaside Safari III


Wild Marvels Day Camps

3rd-5th Grade

8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m.

June 15-19 – Nature Rangers I

July 13-17 – Nature Rangers II

August 3-7 – Nature Rangers III


Wild Marvels Day Camps

6th-8th Grade

8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m.

June 15-19 – BioQuest I

July 13-17 – BioQuest II

August 3-7 – BioQuest III


For more information including pricing, click here. To register, click here.

Spring Breakers Can Meet Jeff Corwin and Cruise on the Bay March 7th!

Guests are invited to venture out with Jeff Corwin this Spring Break at Moody Gardens with opportunities for a morning cruise, a viewing of his new film along with a presentation and Q&A sessions as they learn about the bay. The Emmy award winning Biologist and Wildlife Conservationist will join Moody Gardens’ guests for a day of exploration and education on March 7.


Corwin is the narrator of the new Giant screen film “Expedition Chesapeake: A Journey of Discovery,” currently playing at the MG 3D Theater at Moody Gardens. The film takes viewers on a journey from New York to Virginia to explore the country’s largest estuary.  It also encourages audiences to appreciate the value of the Bay but to also take steps to support long-term conservation efforts in their communities.


Before screenings of “Expedition Chesapeake: A Journey of Discovery,” Corwin will be on hand to present his expertise on this estuary along with the vital need to conserve our resources and raise environmental awareness.


The film draws parallels from the local community as Galveston Bay is also an estuary and has many of the same species calling it home. Guests can embark on a special cruise aboard the Colonel Paddlewheel Boat for “On the Bay with Jeff Corwin.” On March 7 guests can join him and representatives from other local area organizations as they interpret Galveston Bay and the role it plays in our ecosystem with some exciting hands-on activities. On the Bay cruise will be from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. Tickets are $40 per person and includes grab and go breakfast. Tickets can be purchased at


“We are pleased to be able to offer our guests a fun and educational experience as Jeff Corwin shares a common purpose of promoting conservation,” said Moody Gardens President and CEO John Zendt. “Jeff’s background and expertise fits right in with our mission as we hope to inspire and educate our guests.”


For more information on Spring Break activities happening at Moody Gardens, please visit or call 409-744-4673.

BLOG: Save MORE and Give Back This Holiday Season at Moody Gardens!

Guests can save more this season – and give back – while enjoying eight holiday attractions all at Moody Gardens, the coolest holiday destination in the southwest.

Get ready for the return of ICE LAND with an all new signature theme: Christmas Around The World. Festival of Lights also returns to Moody Gardens this holiday season for its 18th year brighter than ever before, offering families an enchanted place to gather together and make long-lasting memories.

Regular adult admission to the Festival of Lights is $18.95 and $28.95 for ICE LAND. Super Value Days and Value Days, which are select days Sunday through Thursday, offer guests the opportunity to enjoy the Festival of Lights and ICE LAND while getting increased savings per person. View our crowd forecast calendar here for more value days information.

With the Festival of Lights’ return comes Food Drive Thursdays, held each Thursday through Jan. 9, 2020, giving guests a chance to enjoy Festival of Lights at a special two-for-one admission discount. Guests only need to bring a non-perishable food item to receive the discount. All donations will benefit Galveston County and Houston Food Banks. Moody Gardens is once again partnering with the Salvation Army to host the Red Kettle Campaign. This Festival of Lights tradition allows guests to donate directly to the Salvation Army nightly.

“The joyful and luminous Festival of Lights trail is something families look forward to each year at Moody Gardens,” said Moody Gardens President and CEO John Zendt. “Bringing back Food Drive Thursdays every year not only gives guests great savings, but also helps us give back to our neighbors during the holiday season when some need it the most.”

There are also combo packages available letting guests make the most of their visit. The Holiday Pass allows guests entrance into Festival of Lights, ICE LAND: Christmas Around the World, and an attraction of their choosing after 3 p.m.

Guests can also take advantage of the Evening Pass, valid daily after 3 p.m. Visitors can enjoy all that Moody Gardens has to offer including ICE LAND: Christmas Around The World, Festival of Lights, Aquarium Pyramid, Rainforest Pyramid, Discovery Museum, Arctic Slide, Colonel Paddlewheel Boat, MG 3D Theater, 4D Special FX Theater, 20,000 Leagues Interactive Adventure, Ropes Course and Zip Line. Evening Passes are $45.95 for adults and $40.95 for children ages 4-12 and seniors.

Don’t forget that guests can always try and buy it! Any ticket purchase can be applied towards an annual membership, which gives the wonder of Moody Gardens all year!

The Galveston trolley is another option for those want to save some gas money. The trolley has stops along the island including Moody Gardens, Downtown and The Strand.

And as always at Moody Gardens, parking is free.

Other holiday attractions include Cirque Joyeux, Rudolph 4D, holiday 3D films, ice skating, an Arctic Slide, New Year’s Eve Palooza and train rides, plus live entertainment and great food.

For a complete list of ticketing prices, visit click here.


A new adventure has surfaced. Moody Gardens’ guests can visit spectacular destinations and meet an all new cast of characters in 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea: An Interactive Adventure in the Discovery Pyramid.


Moody Gardens has once again partnered with Super 78, the attraction design and production company who previously helped bring the SpongeBob SubPants Adventure to life, to create this innovative attraction.


This brand-new adventure will take guests through all the stages of a submarine voyage, complete with unusual sea life. They will help get to be part of the crew led by Deep, a robotically-enhanced pufferfish. Along with Deep’s helper robots, Echo and Torque, they will help operate the ship, choose the direction it travels, activate the on-board camera and interact with the fascinating sea creatures The Nautilus encounters as it journeys to a spectacular coral reef, ice caves in the Antarctic, an ancient lost city, undersea volcanoes, and more. Be prepared to see a sting ray, an anglerfish, a leatherback sea turtle, a killer whale, and even a colossal squid.


Guests will be immersed in the action as 3D images on the screen transform from digital to real time through exciting 4D sensory elements.


Behind the scenes is Super 78’s groundbreaking technology, the Gepetto Animation Control System. This system allows a performer behind the scenes to control all aspects of the full-sensory experience on screen in front of audiences. The performer’s voice becomes an on-screen character, and he has an unlimited palette of animation options which brings the character to life. The performer also runs the lights, sounds, bubbles, and scents with the push of a button.


“We are thrilled to be debuting this new interactive adventure in our Audience Recognition Theater at Moody Gardens,” said John Zendt, Moody Gardens President and CEO. “It is always a treat to be able to see the reactions of the audience to things happening in the show, especially when they have a role in how the story plays out.”


20,000 Under the Sea: An Interactive Adventure is a non-stop whirlwind of surprises that is fun for the whole family only at Moody Gardens. Admission is $14.95 for adults and $12.95 for seniors and children. It is also included in a Moody Gardens Value Pass. To plan your visit, click here.


                                                            National Adoption Month Brings a Texas Homecoming for Six Penguin Eggs  


Moody Gardens is celebrating National Adoption Month with the highly-anticipated addition of six Macaroni penguin eggs to its collection.


These six eggs, came from Sea World San Diego, and are being cared for in an incubator by our staff biologists following a streamlined process that allowed this precious cargo to fly on a commercial flight last week inside a warm, insulated cooler that slid securely under the seat under the watchful eye of an attentive staff biologist and penguin mother-to-be, Maggie Reynolds. The anticipated hatch dates are Nov. 25-28, just in time for Thanksgiving.


The successful hatching of new chicks will allow for a more diverse penguin collection as they join the 10 other Macaroni penguins currently on exhibit in the Aquarium Pyramid. Four of these penguins came to Moody Gardens from Sea World San Antonio, while the other six were from the Detroit Zoo.


Each successful hatch adds to the Moody Gardens mission of education and conservation. Assistant Curator Diane Olsen notes that as is true in nature, there is not a guarantee that each egg will hatch. “As with every egg that is laid either at Moody Gardens, another facility or in the wild, whether it hatches or not is all up to nature and several circumstances. While we will do everything in our power to give these eggs the best chance at survival, sometimes no chick is hatched at the end of the process,” she said.


Olsen also explained the significance of adding Macaroni penguin eggs to the Moody Gardens’ collection. “Increasing the number of Macaroni penguins in the Moody Gardens’ collection helps to increase our breeding success and genetic diversity in the future. It also benefits the population of penguins kept at facilities accredited by AZA (Association of Zoos and Aquariums), like Moody Gardens.”


Having Macaroni penguins on exhibit allows the public to learn about the plight these birds face in the wild. Macaroni penguins are currently listed as Threatened in the wild and numbers of populations are decreasing due to the climate change as well as overfishing.


The anticipated arrival of fuzzy penguin chicks also begs the question of whether a Moody Gardens tradition will continue to name Macaroni penguins after cheeses to join Brie, Jack, Colby and others.


Our Aquarium Pyramid is one of the largest and most diverse aquariums in the U.S. In addition to the Macaroni penguins, five other species including Gentoo, Chinstrap, King, and Rockhopper penguins also call the South Atlantic Exhibit home. The warm-climate Humboldt penguins live in an exhibit right next door to their chilly-aired friends. With over one million gallons of water, the building also houses colorful marine life from all around the world including sting rays, sharks, seals and sea lions, and hundreds of species of fish.

Parachuting Santa, Choirs and a Tribute to the Victorian Age Kicked Off Moody Gardens’ Holiday in the Gardens

A skydiving Santa and his merry elves have kicked off the fun-filled holiday season as Moody Gardens 18th annual Festival of Lights opened Nov. 16. One of the Gulf Coast’s largest holiday lighting events offers Christmas tradition infused with some steampunk flair making this a holiday tradition the whole family can enjoy.


The opening ceremony began at 4 p.m. with talented Texas locals providing holiday-themed entertainment. This year even featured a sci-fi twist to the entertainment pairing with Moody Gardens’ newest attraction, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea: An Interactive Adventure. Guests were treated to performances by Lee’s Golden Dragon lion dancers, Jill Rauscher School of Dance, the Houston Show Choir, and much more as the entertainment followed the Christmas Around the World theme with its steampunk twist.


Families joyfully welcomed Santa at 5 p.m. when he parachuted down from the North Pole to help prepare Moody Gardens for the grand lighting of the Festival of Lights trail. After mixing, mingling and few dazzling performances to put everyone in the holiday mood, Santa flipped the switch at 6 p.m. to turn on the two million twinkling lights that make up Festival of Lights, officially kicking off the holiday season on Galveston Island.


Festival of Lights will continue to shine throughout the holiday season nightly through Jan. 12. Hours run from 6-11 p.m. Moody Gardens’ other holiday and year-round attractions, including ICE LAND, holiday 3D films, Rudolph 4D, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea: An Interactive Adventure, Aquarium Pyramid and more are open 10 a.m.-10 p.m. This year’s ICE LAND: Christmas Around the World will take guests on a frosty journey from Russia and Egypt to China and beyond featuring famous sights like the Statue of Liberty, the Alamo, Big Ben, the Eiffel Tower, the Great Wall of China, and more.


Regular admission to the Festival of Lights is $18.95. Guests can take advantage of significant discounts with the new Super Value Days and Value Days. Super Value Days start at $8.95 for Festival of Lights. For more information, click here.




The hip bone is connected to the…thigh bone. There are 206 bones that compile the human skeletal system and Skeletown, now open in the Discovery Pyramid, explores them all.


Skeletown provides guests the opportunity to see authentic bones from both animal and human specimens. The exhibit examines bone biology, bone health and the part that bones play in cultures all around the world.


The exhibit gets its name from the various areas within it that resemble what would be found in a small town. It features a Health Center to teach about the repair of broken bones, a pond to explore the skeletal system of various animals like frogs, and food a food truck to explore how healthy eating and exercising helps keep bones healthy.


Also in the exhibit is a cultural central designed to educate and enlighten guests about the various roles that bones play in everyday life around the world. This includes cultures that have made toys from bones, those that have altered their bodies for beauty throughout history and the myths that shroud unidentified bones.


“We are excited to welcome guests to explore Skeletown,” said Moody Gardens President and CEO John Zendt. “The exhibit provides a great scientific message in a fun, interactive way and we hope we can educate and inspire visitors to live healthier lives and understand the role bones play in cultures all around the world.”


To plan your visit, click here.


Aquarium Pyramid’s New Coral Reef Lab Addresses Critical Environmental Crisis On Florida Reef Tract


Moody Gardens wants you to be a reefer starting 4/20. Now that we have your attention, an international effort is underway to increase awareness and combat a disease that is rapidly killing the Florida Reef Tract, the third largest coral reef system in the world. Moody Gardens’ new Coral Rescue Lab will be used to propagate coral as it focuses on species being impacted by this disease.

The Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), selected Moody Gardens to participate in this vital project to help save corals native to the Florida Reef Tract as one of 60 institutions from 21 states and Canada.

“We are excited and honored to be selected as one of the institutions that are being entrusted with the care of these corals,” said Greg Whittaker, Moody Gardens Animal Husbandry Manager.

In 2014, an unidentified coral tissue loss disease was first observed in Miami-Dad County and quickly spread throughout the north areas of the Florida Reef Tract. The disease outbreak continued to persistently spread south of Miami through the Upper and Middle Keys, reaching the Lower Keys by April 2018.

In response to the disease the Florida Wildlife Commission (FWC), National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary (FKNMS), and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) have formed the Florida Coral Rescue Team to execute the Florida Coral Rescue Plan to save what is left of Florida’s healthy coral stocks. Part of that plan includes the Rescue Team reaching out to institutions to house and maintain corals for gene banking and propagation for potential future restoration activities.

The Rescue Plans has two primary goals: prevent ecological extinction of the most susceptible species along the Florida Reef Tract, and maintain as much genetic diversity as possible among approximately 25 species of coral.

“Corals are animals and are highly impacted by their environment. Through this effort we are helping nature respond to a crisis and recover to once again become a healthy ecosystem,” Whittaker said.

In March the Aquarium Pyramid received 250 pieces of live aquacultured rock in preparation for the live corals for the exhibit. Aquacultured rock is rock used to season coral aquariums and prepare them for holding local corals. On April 17, Moody Gardens received the coral entrusted to us and acclimated it to its temporary home inside an exhibit inside the Aquarium Pyramid.

“We are looking forward to being able to educate our guests about the diversity of Florida’s coral reefs and the importance of maintaining a healthy ecosystem for them to thrive,” Whittaker said, adding that this project fits in perfectly with the cornerstones of Moody Gardens’ mission of conservation, education, rehabilitation and research.
The arrival of the live coral into the Aquarium Pyramid appropriately coincides with Earth Day, being celebrated property-wide at Moody Gardens with presentations and crafts on April 20. As part of the Earth Day festivities, the first 100 people starting at 10 a.m. to visit a new Reef Rescue VR Experience will receive two-for-one admission to the attraction. Reef Rescue VR is an interactive high-capacity virtual reality experience where up to 16 people can pilot their own R.O.V.E.R. to help clean up waters, plant new coral branches and feed the fish, returning the reef to complete health in the process.

Moody Gardens is a public, non-profit, educational destination utilizing nature in the advancement of rehabilitation, conservation, recreation, and research.

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