Bats for Bats Weekly Online Auction

2012 is Year of the Bat and we’re celebrating it with Bats for Bats! We’ll be having a series of online auctions for the coming weeks. Each sports memorabilia was generously donated to support bats and their important role in the environment. The money raised from these items will be donated to Bat Conservation International to fund crucial education and awareness.

ITEM 1
(SOLD!)

Houston Astros Maxwell & Johnson Autographed Baseball


ITEM 2
(SOLD!)

Dynamo Fan Pack with Two Tickets for any 2013 game

 

ITEM 3
(SOLD)

Texas Rangers’ Michael Young Autographed Photo

 

ITEM 4
(SOLD)

Authentic Texas Tech football autographed by Tommy Tuberville
ITEM 5
Bid here: 
http://bit.ly/Bats4Bats5
(bidding ends 11/13)
UT Football with authentic Mack Brown autograph

Madagascar Giant Jumping Rats

Meet the newest members of our Rainforest Pyramid: Madagascar Giant Jumping Rats

Photo courtesy of Philadelphia Zoo

These guys are the largest endemic rodents in Madagascar. They find food by foraging the forest floor for fallen fruits. These nocturnal animals live in dry and deciduous coastal forests. Jumping rats often communicate in trills and barks, and are extremely active and curious creatures.  Despite the name, they don’t really jump unless they’re startled or frightened. Both of our new additions are male.

Moody Gardens is fortunate enough to provide a home for the Jumping Rats, as we are only one of six North American zoos and aquariums to have these species. These endangered species are threatened by habitat loss and hunted by feral cats and dogs.

With these newest family members, we are now a part of the large European Endangered Species Program (EEP), equivalent to the North American’s AZA Species Survival Plan.

Sports Fest Attendees Share Inspiring Stories

For the first time in its 22-year history, Moody Gardens’ annual Adaptive Water Sports Festival is teaming up with the U.S. Paralympics for a unique experience for individuals with special needs. This event allows participants to experience several water sports, including water skiing, sailing and kayaking, with the assistances of special equipment and instructors. The U.S. Paralympics team, TRR Texas, will also demonstrate its skills with a kayaking time trial as part of the Paralympic Experience.

Here are three inspiring stories from some of the people attending this weekend:

 

Kelly Allen, Age 20:

My name is Kelly Allen. I was born with Proximal Femoral Focal deficiency (PFFD) type D. This is a rare, non-hereditary birth defect that affects the pelvis and the femur. However, because I am a type D I am totally missing my left femur, patella, and fibula, along with a fully developed hip socket. Because of this birth defect I have learned to adapt to everyday life using my prosthetic leg. Basically, the left side of my lower body didn’t develop and I look like I only have one half of a leg. Doctors told my parents I would not be able to sit or stand let alone participate in any sports.

However, today I am more active than ever! Having taken home 4th place at the 2012 ICF Sprint World Cup in Poznan, Poland for kayaking I am now considered an elite athlete. Along with kayaking, I am on my way of living my dream of becoming a world class ski racer and an athlete in the 2014 Sochi Russia Paralympic games!


Dylan Brown, Age 23:

Dylan is ranked 6th in the world for ParaCanoe V1 TA after representing the United States this past May at the ICF Sprint World Cup in Poznan, Poland. Brown, a native to Pensacola, Florida started his promising career as a US Marine during his junior year in high school. Taking on the role as a Platoon Radio Operator, Brown was deployed to Afghanistan in March of 2011. Only a few months on the job Brown suffered serious injuries in the field after being electrocuted. He has been recovering since in the Brook Army Medical Center in San Antonio, TX.

It is here in Texas that his kayaking career has only just begun. Dylan participates in the Red River Racing Kayak program on base held at the Center for the Intrepid. It is there that he took his kayaking skills from intermediate to the elite level. Brown took second at US Nationals in Oklahoma City qualifying him for the national team. Brown is now working with a Military Paralympic program to help him reach his full potential on the water in hopes of making the 2016 Paralympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.


Tacey Raulerson, Age 12:

Tacey was diagnosed with an extremely rare cancer, Retinoblastoma, when she was 7 ½ months old. Retinoblastoma causes malignant tumors to form in the eyes of infants. When she was diagnosed, the doctors were not very optimistic that Tacey’s eyes could be saved but they were willing to attack the disease with some aggressive chemo in the hopes of saving at least some of her vision, but more especially, her life. Only six weeks into the chemo, the doctors realized her left eye could not be saved. Her left eye had to be removed and years later, after fighting to save her right eye and as much vision as possible, the doctors and her parents came to the realization that in order to continue to save her life it was necessary to also remove her right eye. One month before her 7th birthday, Tacey underwent the surgery that would leave her blind.

Cancer may have taken her sight, but it has not taken her courage. Soon after she lost her second eye, she rode her first horse and a new passion and dream was fueled. Now those dreams are being realized as she reigns as the first ever Miss Tough Enough To Wear Pink Four States Rodeo Queen. During her reign, Tacey has many duties, but her primary task is to spread her uplifting spirit and to encourage others to set their sights high. Wherever Tacey goes, she spreads hope, inspiration and encouragement with her joy and zest for life. She shares her story and courage with all she meets.

 

It’s not too late to register or to volunteer! This event is scheduled for Sept. 8 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Moody Gardens’ Palm Beach. It is free of charge to the individual with special needs and immediate family members on a first come, first serve basis. For more information please contact volunteers@moodygardens.com or call 409-683-4108.

 

Brews, Boots & BBQ


Brews, Boots & BBQ

Date:
Sunday, Sept. 2, 2012
Time: 5:00 p.m. – 12:00 a.m.
Price: $10 per person cover charge
Location: Moody Gardens Convention Center

Dust off the old cowboy boots and take it for a night to remember. With a special performance by Horizon, the country band sets the perfect scene for a two-stepping kind of night. Come for the craft beers brewed right here in the great state of Texas and cheer on Sparky Sparks’ Live Armadillo Races.

Get your tickets here

Brewmasters Friday Night Pub Crawl

Date: Friday, Aug. 31, 2012
Time: 8:00 p.m. – 12:00 a.m.
Price: $25 per person in advance
Location: Moody Gardens Hotel and Convention Center Lobby

Remember those bar hopping nights? Well now it’s an official event. Grab your buddies and hop on the bus. With a free 2012 t-shirt and koozie, the ride will take you to different places to purchase special feature selections at Pub Crawl Stops.

And if you want something to make you feel real special, then check out the Taste It First selections. That’s right, be the first to taste new brews from Cedar Creek, Fort Bend Brewing, No Label and Southern Star before they hit the store shelves.  From the makers of Texas Backyard Blonde, Lawn Ranger Cream Ale, El Hefe and Pine Belt Pale, these guys are brewing up their next fan favorite!

Sharks: A more diverse species than most realize

By Greg Whittaker

Working in the zoo and aquarium industry offers a lot of perks. That’s because we get to work with some of the coolest animals in the world.

As I was walking through the exhibits looking at what our guests see, I started counting the species of sharks and rays we house at Moody Gardens® and the diversity they represent in habitat, diet, behavior and natural history. From the secretive swell sharks and wobbegongs to the large active brown sharks and sand tigers, we have 22 species from Galveston’s local waters to Australian reefs from the other side of the world. We have three species of stingrays that are found in the Amazon River basin and are so completely adapted to living in freshwater that they can’t exist in the brackish delta.

One of the questions we answer while walking through the public galleries is, “Where are the sharks?” Over time we’ve come to realize that most guests are referring to the Caribbean exhibit and the large, easily recognizable species.

You might be surprised to hear that four out of these five are relatively common species in the waters just off Galveston. If they truly were the bloodthirsty human predators they’re portrayed to be, we surely would be losing more tourists and fishermen to the sharky menace.Looking at the tremendous diversity of sharks, rays, skates, guitarfish, sawsharks and sawfish all collectively grouped together as cartilaginous fishes, there are over 1,200 different species. The sharks that gain all of the attention are the ones that grab the headlines in “attacks” on humans, and the five that are generally agreed upon as the top “maneaters” are – great hammerhead, lemon, bull, tiger and white sharks.

In reality, the vast majority of the 100 incidents that are reported worldwide annually are cases of mistaken identity with small, non-dangerous species. Contrast those statistics with the estimated 350 to 500 million sharks that are removed from the world’s oceans every year. Many of those are reproductively mature adults of species that are in perilous population declines and in some cases, they have their fins cut off and are dumped back into the water to die.

Even if you don’t particularly like sharks, you have to see how wasteful shark finning is.

Back to the amazing diversity – whale sharks are the largest fish with a maximum length of 45 feet and weighing as much as 36 tons. Along with basking sharks and megamouth sharks as the most menacing-sized sharks, they all filter feed on plankton and small fish. On the opposite end of the spectrum, the tiny cigar shark reaches a maximum size of only about eight inches long.

The biggest ray species is the manta which can have wing tips that measure almost 24 feet wide and weigh almost 3,000 pounds. Electric rays generate powerful electric currents that protect them from predators and assist in navigating dark murky water and capturing prey. Between sharks and rays is an assortment of species that have aspects of their appearance that match both – a  generally flattened body with elongated tails. These include angel sharks, guitarfish, sawsharks and sawfish.

Sharks can fill ecological niches from scavengers to apex predators and have reproductive strategies that include eggs deposited within the reef to complex internal egg incubation, internal hatching and internal cannibalism of siblings.

From this rambling account, you hopefully have gained enough perspective to realize that “sharks” cannot be painted with a simple broad brush stroke. They generally all came from ancient ancestors hundreds of millions of years ago. They fill every available niche and are remarkably adaptable to environmental changes and pressures placed on them.

For every species we can provide care for in the captive aquarium, there are dozens of other species that we simply don’t know enough about.  It’s a safe wager that there are untold numbers of species out there that we haven’t even discovered yet.

BrewLicious Beer and Food Pairing

BrewLicious Beer & Food Pairing

Date: Friday, Aug. 31, 2012
Time: 7:00 p.m. – 10:00 p.m.
Price: $55 per person in advance
Location: Frances Anne Moody Ballroom at Moody Gardens Hotel and Convention Center

Let’s kick off the party with beer and food! The BrewLicious Beer and Food Pairing starts the Festival with more than 150 craft beers and plenty of scrumptious creations. This isn’t just an ordinary food pairing either. They’re taking it to the next level with personally invited professional chefs and featured restaurants.

Beat the Texas heat and head to the Poolside Terrace Crafty Parties. Live music and themed parties rock the deck as people try out the different craft selections. For tonight, Luther & The Healers jazz up the stage from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m.  As one of the longest running blues band, the band stuck together since 1991 and rocked more than 300 shows a year.

Catching Shark Fever: One Man’s Birth of Shark Appreciation


By: Greg Whittaker

Animal Husbandry Manager at Moody Gardens

As a boy growing up on a farm in upstate New York my world didn’t include sharks.

Unlike many of my colleagues that had aspirations of becoming Marine Biologists, I had no such lifelong dreams. I was content to spend my free time fishing in our pond, hunting in our woods, swimming on my high school team and generally being a free-spirited rural American kid.

I was steered into Marine Biology by my uncle who touted the field as a wide open frontier with high-wage job opportunities and since it involved both the inherent study of biology and water I thought, “Sounds cool.”

So I packed up what I assumed I would need and moved to Galveston to attend one of the top ranked Marine Biology programs in the nation, although secretly I was more excited about living on an island on the Gulf of Mexico. Most aspects of island life were much different than what I was used to, but there was fishing.

Fortunately for me and the local sharks, my undersized tackle and lack of local fishing knowledge ended most interactions with a speedy “catch and release.” As my conservation ethos and fishing experience both grew, these catch and release episodes were based more on my judgment and less on their toothy grins.

The three sharks that I’ve caught and kept have all ended up in my kitchen as my mom always insisted if I killed something I ate it. Shark meat can be prepared to taste very good, but there are several important steps from the moment you catch it to how you cook it that can change the final taste. I didn’t follow any of these steps and as a result, my fishing activities no longer result in sharks coming home for the dinner table.

I had seen JAWS, and the increasingly ridiculous sequels, and I suppose my observations of the natural world kept me from falling prey to the anti-shark hysteria that those movies ingrained in so many viewers. I did gain just enough fear to feel uneasy during all those late night beach parties when we ventured out past the sandbars into the dark unknown.

I’ve come to appreciate that is a normal healthy phobia that we all should have as we’re entering the predators’ world at dinnertime. Many sharks rely on a balance of sight, smell and sensitive electrical sensing to find their food, and the twilight periods before sunrise and after sunset offer them the perfect competitive advantage in locating prey.

I find myself repeating the same speech every couple of years when we’re asked to comment on a local shark bite incident; “avoid swimming at dusk and dawn, always have a buddy to help out if there is a problem and avoid swimming where large schools of bait fish are found.”

Having worked with sharks in the aquarium environment for the last 24 years, I have a great appreciation for their place in the natural world. They are ancient and perfect in their ability to survive in so many specialized niches. They found their various jobs millions of years ago and continue to adapt to changes in the environment and pressures placed on them. Like apex predators in every ecosystem in the world, sharks are losing the battle with humans; habitat destruction, food web interruption, pollution, trophy hunting and simple misinformation based persecution. They are not the malicious killers portrayed in that 1975 movie that is perhaps responsible for many species’ spiraling populations today.

I still go fishing whenever I can get the time, and I still try to catch sharks as they are very worthy adversaries in that primal tug of war. Pictures are taken and care is given to efficiently release them so they can continue to do their job in the world around me.

The ones we keep are destined to become part of our living collection of ambassadors, maintained in as natural an environment as we can achieve so that our guests can come to see and appreciate them for the beautiful creatures they are. Maybe, if we’re successful and luck is on our side, we might even inspire a growing army of conservation minded individuals to re-evaluate our place in the natural world and take steps to ensure that all species have a future.

Shark Week

One of the most exciting weeks of the year is swimming in and Moody Gardens® is getting in the spirit with a special program and combo deal.

Moody Gardens biologists are celebrating “Shark Week” with a forum on the myths and realities of these amazing sea creatures. The staff will also discuss the process it goes through to care for the sharks housed in the Aquarium Pyramid®.

The 30-minute program will run from Aug. 13 through Aug. 17 at the Aquarium Pyramid’s Ocean View Room. The forum starts at 2 p.m. and is included with aquarium admission at that time.

“We want to dispel some of the myths about sharks and give everyone some history and facts about them,” Moody Gardens Animal Husbandry Manager Greg Whittaker said. “There are also a lot of local sharks in the Galveston area that we will give more information on.”

The program will also feature a trivia contest, where a five lucky winners will get a behind the scenes tour of the Aquarium Pyramid’s Caribbean Exhibit each day.

A special combo pass is also being offered to guests during “Shark Week.” For $23.95, visitors receive tickets to the Aquarium Pyramid® and an aquatic-themed movie at the MG 3D Theater. Movies at the theater include Sharks 3D and The Last Reef 3D. The combo runs from Aug. 12-18.

We will also feature several shark-themed blog posts throughout the week.

“Shark Week,” which has developed a cult following throughout its 25 years on the Discovery Channel, begins on Aug. 12.

Tap into Texas’s Largest Craft Beer Festival with 400 featured brews

According to Brewers Association records there are now almost 2,000 craft breweries in the United States and growing. In 2011, craft beer sales grew more than 13%. Join fellow craft beer lovers and supporters of this independent craft as they gather Labor Day weekend to sample more than 400 specialty and hard-to-find brews at the Third Annual BrewMasters Craft Beer Festival. This annual foam fete takes place at Moody Gardens Friday, August 31 through Sunday, September 2, 2012.

The three-day celebration will showcase two signature events: BrewLicious in the Ballroom and BrewHaHa Grand Tasting, both of which have VIP experiences, as well as the regular ticket. There are a host of related events like the BrewMasters PubCrawl and Texas Brewery Tasting Tours. Featured activities include: live music, beer and food pairing seminars and dinners featuring renowned chefs, educational events, and a slew of Brew Brains and industry experts including award-winning BrewMasters. Sunday, September 2 will feature a new event called Tex-E-Que which will feature a live concert.

“We’re fortunate to have multiple micro breweries right here in Houston and many others throughout the region, said event founder and organizer, Clifton McDerby, principal of Food & Vine Time Productions, Inc. “This event is dedicated to showcasing the voluminous and explosive industry that is craft and specialty brews and it just keeps getting bigger and better along with the craft beer industry,” added McDerby. “We started as the largest beer festival in the state and we plan to give Texans even more including the largest selection of Craft beers available at any Texas festival. Plus, we’ll continue to feature Taste it First at BrewMasters selections where we’ll be bringing to market beers that haven’t been tasted before since the brewers are holding off the beer’s release to showcase them first at BrewMasters Craft Beer Festival.”

Festivities begin on Friday, August 31 with BrewLicious in the Ballroom. Located at the Moody Gardens Hotel’s Francis Anne Moody Ballroom, this spectacular evening for suds sippers is for the serious beer and culinary enthusiast. BrewLicious in the Ballroom will feature renowned chefs showcasing unique food and beer pairing selections. BrewLicious in the Ballroom will run from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. and tickets to the event are $55, with a VIP Premium Room upgrade ticket for $75 with early entry and premium craft selections.

Also on tap is the BrewMasters Pub Crawl Friday, August 31 at 8 p.m. Hop on board this festive party bus with a tour to some of Galveston’s coolest bars and meet featured Brew Brains at each stop.

Saturday, September 1st sample some of the best available brews in the world at the BrewHaHa Grand Tasting held in the Moody Gardens Expo Arena, featuring over 400 craft and specialty brews and more than 30 wines. Admission to BrewHaHa is $35 in advance, $40 at the door, $75 for a VIP ticket, or guests can purchase a VIP or general admission two-day Hopper Pass. The BrewHaHa Grand Tasting will run from 3 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. and includes access to multiple beer seminars on the Spec’s University Seminar Stage, a fun and educational experience for all who take pride in their beer and want to expand their knowledge of craft beers.

Sunday, September 2nd offers the new Tex-E-Que and concert. For a $10 cover charge, beer lovers get their pick of 400 selections for a flat price per bottle. Get them while they last and boot scoot the night away.

BrewMasters Craft Beer Festival is presented by Spec’s Wine, Spirits and Finer Foods. Additional sponsors include Moody Gardens Hotel and Conference Center, GreatBrewers.com, Toasted Head Wine, and DeFalco’s Home Wine & Beer Supplies.

For more information on the BrewMasters Craft Beer Festival, visit www.brewmastersbeerfest.com or call 713-557-5732.