Welcoming Sam the Sea Lion!

Moody Gardens is pleased to welcome our newest addition to our North Pacific Exhibit! We introduced Sam the California sea lion, from the Utica Zoo, to his new aquatic friends in the Aquarium Pyramid.Sam_entering_AQ_exhibit_for_first_time

Sea lions, Dino and Squirt along with Porter, the harbor seal, are quite intrigued with their new friend and staff will be monitoring them closely to see how their chemistry builds. As an Association of Zoos & Aquariums facility, cooperation and assistance amongis a cornerstone of the zoo and aquarium community which is why Moody Gardens staff is quite excited about the new opportunity with the Utica Zoo.

“Getting Sam was a great opportunity to add to the North Pacific Exhibit,” said Diane Olsen, Assistant Curator of Seals and Penguins, who discussed the anticipation of his arrival. “Utica Zoo was expecting a new pup and needed to move Sam and we were able to help by providing him a home.”

California sea lions are usually found on islands off of Southern California and Baja California in Mexico, up the U.S. West Coast to Vancouver Island, Canada. Spending his entire young life at the Utica Zoo, Sam will be joining a very fascinating group of mammals. Squirt, a rescued blind sea lion who was found off of the Santa Barbara shore, Porter, a harbor seal who was also rescued off of the coast of Maine after being abandoned and Dino, the over 800 pound California sea lion who was acquired from the Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo back in 2010. As Dino enters into his senior years, Sam is expected to be a social and active addition for the other seals and sea lion in the exhibit.

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Although it will take a little bit of time for Sam to get acclimated to his new environment, you can now go check him out at the North Pacific Exhibit. If you cannot make it to Sam’s new habitat at the Aquarium Pyramid you can watch him live on the seal cam at www.moodygardens.com which is available 24 hours a day seven days a week.

Baby Fever at Moody Gardens!

Moody Gardens is Experiencing a Baby Boom in the Animal Kingdom!

Our Rainforest Pyramid staff recently welcomed three Rodrigues fruit bats, two of which can already be seen in the Upper Canopy of the exhibit. Rodrigues fruit bats are a critically endangered species found on Rodrigues Island off the coast of Madagascar. They belong to a group of fruit bats knows as flying foxes.

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We also have the pleasure of welcoming a baby porcupine known as a porcupette that was born around four weeks ago. Prehensile tail porcupines or tree porcupines inhabit tropical forests in South America. Female porcupines give birth to a single porcupette after six months gestation.

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Last but certainly not least, a new leaf tailed gecko joined the Rainforest Pyramid family yesterday! Leaf tail geckos or Uroplatus are native to Madagascar. Their large eyes are a clue to the fact that they are nocturnal. As their name indicates, their tails look like leaves and foliage, which aids in their camouflage abilities. These large geckos are insect eaters.Photo 1

The Rodrigues fruit bats, prehensile tail porcupine and leaf tail geckos are all part of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) Species Survival Plan breeding programs. Everyone at Moody Gardens is excited to announce our contributions to the success of conserving these animals.

Stay tuned for updates on these adorable newbies and a set of pygmy slow loris twins that are expected to arrive very soon!

 

Sea Turtles

Surfs up dudes! Yes that’s right, this blog is in dedication of our lovely aquatic friend, the Sea Turtle. With the recent celebration of National Sea Turtle Day, World Ocean’s Day in June and the birthday of Mr. Archie Carr who was the founder of sea turtle conservation in the Caribbean. This serves as an opportunity to focus on the importance of these beautiful shelled creatures and their conservation as they are an endangered species. Below are some interesting facts that we’d like to share!

  • There are 7 species of Sea Turtles
  • Diet is highly variable across the species (in addition to age) and can include algae, jellyfish, seaweed, crabs, shrimp and sponges and is highly variable across the species in addition to age.
  • Sea Turtles nest in the same place that they were hatched. Their incubation period is about 6-8 weeks.
  • They spend their entire lives in the water except to lay eggs. After laying an average of 100 ping-pong ball sized eggs, female turtles cover the nest with sand and return to the sea.
  • Breeding season is March – October depending on the species
  • Sea turtles usually surface every 20 minutes to breathe.

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Visit Chloe: Our Rehab Kemp’s Ridley Sea Turtle

Be sure to visit the Moody Gardens Aquarium Pyramid to catch a glimpse of Chloe, our Kemp’s Ridley sea turtle in the Aquarium Pyramid South Pacific exhibit. She was hit by a boat propeller which cracked her shell and paralyzed her rear flippers, rendering her unable to survive and reproduce in the wild, and therefore not qualified for release.  She was transferred from the Houston Zoo to Moody Gardens in a tank large enough for her to swim and live comfortably. She has lived at Moody Gardens for over nine years. The nature of her injury causes her rear end to float upward. She likes to nestle beneath the rocks and coral to sleep. Guests are often concerned that she is in peril, however she just prefers this position to rest. With 1.5 million gallons of water and more than 10,000 marine animals, the Aquarium Pyramid showcases the unique beauty of the North Pacific, South Pacific, South Atlantic and Caribbean regions.

Celebrate Good Times

Birthday parties are great fun, but planning the party can sometimes be a challenge. This year is the start of something new here at Moody Gardens and we would like you to be a part! Let the Moody Gardens Education department plan your next party! You choose the date and the guest list and our party pros will handle everything else from the cake, party favors or even an animal encounter to make your child’s birthday party truly unique and memorable. We even have two new package additions to an already extensive list or party theme options.

Journey through the various rainforests across the world in the Rainforest Pyramid or soak up some rays this summer at Palm Beach. You can enjoy all this and more as each package comes with its own cool theme.  Savor your special day with friends at the Learning Place with themed decorations, party favors, games, delicious punch and let’s not forget…CAKE!

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Don’t let this opportunity pass you by, make your reservation today!

For package information and pricing please visit our website.

Happy Christmas in July!

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Although it’s hard to believe that Christmas is only six months away, holiday preparations at Moody Gardens are already underway! Prepare for a spectacular holiday season as we begin with revealing this year’s brand-new theme for 2016, ICE LAND: Ice Sculptures, Caribbean Christmas!

In honor of ICE LAND’s new Caribbean theme, the Aquarium Pyramid’s Caribbean Exhibit has taken on a holiday theme for the entire month of July.

  • See Santa dive in the Aquarium Pyramid’s Caribbean Exhibit daily at 2pm
  • Enjoy a Caribbean Christmas Light Show continuously in the aquarium’s Ocean View Room.

ICE LAND: Ice Sculptures, A Caribbean Christmas                                                     November 12, 2016– January 8, 2017

New – Ice Carver VIP Experience Your exclusive behind-the-scenes opportunity to see the artists at work as they create these magnificent, towering ice sculptures.

New – Shiver’s Ice Bar featuring ultra-cool holiday spirits

Moody Gardens takes the holidays to a whole new level of cool! A skilled team of master ice carvers has charted your course for the ultimate Caribbean Christmas! Embark on an amazing undersea journey made of 2 million pounds of ice!

Imagine a towering oil rig ice slide takes you to the breathtaking Flower Garden Banks and the Gulf Mexico as you encounter spectacular schools of beautiful tropical fish, eagle rays, turtles, Hammerhead sharks and more on your way to your island destination!

With numerous attractions to offer this holiday season, 2016 will be the best year yet! Stay tuned in to our Facebook and Twitter as we will begin announcing all of the various events, attractions and activities. Happy Holidays from our Moody Gardens family to yours!

 

Get your chum ready, Shark Week is Here!

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Shark Week originated 28 years ago as a week-long event that focused on shark based programming on the Discovery Channel. Now, however, Shark Week has evolved into so much more! Here at Moody Gardens we are busy planning special events and talks that focus on some of the most enthralling creatures of the ocean.

Every day during Shark U Week, you can enjoy shark arts and crafts, Shark Talks with our shark experts, shark and ocean-themed movies and more. You can even participate in our Scavenger Hunt for a chance to win a Moody Gardens Family Getaway with 4 tickets to all of our attractions, a behind-the-scenes tour of the Caribbean Exhibit Wet Deck and an overnight stay Moody Gardens Hotel!

Daily from June 26 through July 2 there will be an 11:00 a.m. sting ray feeding at the South Pacific Exhibit, a shark feeding at the Caribbean Exhibit at 1:30 p.m., and at 2:00 p.m. there will be a Keeper Shark Talk in the Ocean View Room. If you cannot make it to property for one of our in-person chats there will be virtual Shark Talks on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday live via the Moody Gardens Facebook page. Through the Facebook Live event, you can hang out with our shark experts as they chat about a variety of shark topics or you can have your questions answered in person at Aquarium Pyramid. Use #MGSharkTalk to join via Twitter & Facebook.

Continue the interactive learning sessions with our See-Food Activity where you can look at the silhouettes of people compared to a shark’s food chain. Most shark attacks are a case of mistaken identity. During their attack, the victim is mistaken for prey. From a shark’s point of view, a surfer or swimmer can look quite similar to a turtle or seal. Stop by our Aquarium Pyramid to find out how easy it is for a shark to mistake a human for its prey.

Throughout the week be on the lookout for the MG Shark Spots around the Moody Gardens property. Take a picture at each location that is marked by a fin and upload your pictures to Twitter, Facebook or Instagram using the hashtag #MGSharkQuest to be entered for a chance to win a Moody Gardens Family Getaway with 4 tickets to all of our attractions, a behind-the-scenes tour of the Caribbean Exhibit Wet Deck and an overnight stay Moody Gardens Hotel!

You can buy tickets to start your own Shark Week adventures here!

A great white shark.
A great white shark.

The Screen that Saves

If you have been to our MG 3D Theater at Moody Gardens you would probably agree that it is pretty impressive for a number of reasons. Not only was it the first 3D Theater in North America, but is the biggest screen in Texas and just a little over a year ago was introduced as the world’s first 4K 3D Giant Screen 6 Primary Laser Projection System. However, did you know that it is also extremely environmentally friendly?IMG_1658 SMALL

Although our screen is 3x brighter than most traditional movie screens our system actually uses 88% less energy. The 1570 Projector system required 67.8 kilowatts an hour to run compared to just the 8.4 kilowatts required by the laser system.IMG_3131SMALL

The 1570 Projector relied on Xenon arc lamps, a special type of gas discharge lamps that are used in equipment like movie projectors and searchlights. Before we made the switch to our laser system we would have to replace the bulbs in the theater every month. The lifetime of the bulbs was between 300 and 800 hours. Now, instead of bulbs our system uses laser modules that have a lifetime of 20,000 to 50,000 hours. Not having to replace the bulbs means we have vastly cutting down on our waste and made our theater much more environmentally friendly.

World Oceans Day!

From North to South, East to West, we are all connected by a vast body of water known as the ocean. This year’s theme for World Ocean’s Day is “Healthy Oceans, Healthy Planet,” and is celebrated on June 8th. This day is meant to celebrate the importance of the world’s oceans and how vital they are to the environment.

Groups and organizations across the country are participating in various activities to educate the public on ocean conservation and ways they can help keep the ocean healthy for future generations. Water is the source of life and is vital to mankind and animals worldwide. If you haven’t already, be sure to check out our new film Wild Africa 3D as you are taken on water’s journey throughout the enchanted continent of Africa. Learn how life is created and sustained by water as you cascade along raging rivers or travel above the plains on the largest theater screen in the state of Texas.IMG_1174

In honor or World Ocean’s Day we would like to recognize some of our dedicated Moody Gardens divers that recently completed a week-long technical diving research cruise. During this time they explored mesophotic coral reefs over 100 miles off the Texas Coast in the Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary and outlying coral banks. Members of the Voss Lab at FAU Harbor Branch and collaborators from Florida FWC leading the cruise aim to provide data that will help us better understand and protect coral ecosystems using a suite of molecular techniques. These studies are important for effective management strategies because these reefs are typically deeper than 30 meters, and are largely an unknown frontier that provides habitats to commercially important fish species and coral larvae for recovery of shallower reef areas. We have included the cool video link below for your viewing pleasure!

 http://vosslab.weebly.com/news.

Out To Sea

The dedicated curatorial staff here at Moody Gardens routinely does great things here on property, but they also do many great things out in the community as well. Recently, two of our Penguin and Seal Biologists, Hector and Allison visited the Pacific Marine Mammal Center (PMMC) in Laguna Beach, CA and volunteered to help the stranding center with the large amount of pinniped patients they have this spring. PMMC currently cares for four species of pinnipeds: over 100 California sea lions, a dozen elephant seals, two harbor seals, and two Northern fur seals. Officials have called the large number of strandings an unusual mortality event for California sea lions. It is also rare to see animals like Northern fur seals all the way down in Southern California.

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In the week that the biologists were there, they helped with the various tasks the center performs every day from cleaning sinks and sorting fish to scrubbing, feeding, and shifting animals. Some patients were in large groups in large pens competing for fish to prove they were ready to survive on their own after release, and some were still getting individual care to learn how to eat and search for fish.  Our biologists worked side by side with PMMC staff and volunteers and a biologist from Blank Park Zoo in Des Moines, IA.

On Sunday, May 22, Hector and Allison were able to join several other volunteers in a release of two of the animals they had helped care for. Commanche and Detour were released after several months of rehabilitation.

shifting elephant sealsCalifornia sea lions and harbor seals pupping season is early summer. With this approaching, it is important to remember to give animals space on beaches. If in your travels you come upon an animal you think needs help, whether that’s a seabird here in Galveston or a marine mammal on another coast, please do not approach the animal and call a local stranding center for help.

In anticipation of World Oceans Day we thought to include the link of this bittersweet release.

Summer, Summer, Summertime

A variety of unique adventures await your youngsters and teens as the 2016 Spring/Summer Pyramid Kid’s Camps kick off for the season! These interactive day camps give children the opportunity to become explorers and learn about wildlife and conservation at Moody Gardens.

For nearly 20 years, the Moody Gardens Education Department has continued to create interesting and engaging camps in which children are taught about the amazing worlds of oceans, rainforests and much more. Come and observe animal behavior from the various exhibits and participate in interactive stories, crafts and games.

Reservations are required at least two weeks in advance.  For additional information or to register, please call 409-683-4325 or email education@moodygardens.com.pyramidkidscamps_kidsattable2_small

The fun continues with the following camps below:

Preschool Camps

3-4 year olds

9:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m.

  • June 18 – Out of My Shell
  • July 9 – Funny Bones
  • July 23 – Sea Slimers
  • August 6 – Bits & Bites

Non-member: $20.00/camper (includes adult)

Member: $17.00/camper (includes adult)

Kid’s Camps

5-6 year olds

7-9 years olds

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

  • June 13-17 – Moody Views
  • July 11-15 – Moody Views 2
  • August 8-12 – Best in Shows

Non-member: $250/camper (Full Day-Weeklong)

Member: $212.50/camper

Non-member: $160/camper (Half Day-Weeklong)

Member: $136/camper

Non-member: $60/camper (Full Day-Two attraction visits)

Member: $51/camper

Non-member: $40/camper (Half Day – one attraction visit)

Member: $34/camper

Junior Keepers

10-11 year olds

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

  • Tuesday, June 21
  • Tuesday, July 19
  • Tuesday, August 16

Non-member: $75/camper

Member: $63.75/camper

Jr. Garden Artist

10 to 11 year olds

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

  • Tuesday, June 21
  • Non-member: $75/camper
  • Member: $63.75/camper

Garden Artist

12 to 13 year olds

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

  • Thursday, June 23

Non-member: $75/camper

Member: $63.75/camper

Keeper for a Day

12 to 13 year olds

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

  • Thursday, July 21
  • Thursday, August 18

Non-member: $75/camper

Member: $63.75/camper