Where in the World is Atlas?

It’s time to check in with Atlas, our 362 pound loggerhead sea turtle friend that we released back in July. Atlas hasn’t wasted anytime exploring the Gulf since his release. He’s been down the Texas coast and even ventured into Mexico, before heading off to the Louisiana Coast. What a detour! So where will Atlas journey to next? Maybe he’s headed to the Bahamas? Or maybe he’s trying to draw a pattern and will head back to Galveston! Wherever he goes, you can keep track of him too by visiting http://www.seaturtle.org/tracking/index.shtml?project_id=652

Here’s a little background on Atlas and his release:

Biologists from Moody Gardens partnered with officials from the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to release 10 endangered sea turtles, including Atlas, a loggerhead sea turtle on display in the Aquarium Pyramid® since 2004. They were released on July 14, 20 miles off the coast of Galveston.

Atlas came to Moody Gardens in June of 2004 from the Six Flags amusement park in Aurora, Ohio, with the intent that he would one day be released back into the wild. Moody Gardens biologists provided for his health and welfare to help prepare for his eventual release. In 2010, Atlas was taken off exhibit so biologists could prepare him for life in the wild by allowing him to search for food on his own, thereby removing the connection between humans and food instilled in him by years of captivity.

Where do you think Atlas will end up next?

WHAT’S BREWING?

BrewMasters International Beer Festival at Moody Gardens
Labor Day Weekend, September 2 – 5
WHAT: BrewMasters International Beer Festival, presented by Spec’s Wines, Spirits and Finer Foods!  Held at Moody Gardens Hotel, Spa & Convention Center, the largest craft beer festival in Texas is a four-day celebration showcasing three signature events:  the BrewTopia Beer Garden, the Brew HaHa Grand Tastings & Keg Korner, and BrewLicious in the Ballroom.  Interactive activities include the BrewMasters 5K Rock & Run, a new kid’s zone, live music, beer and food pairing dinners featuring renowned chefs, educational seminars, and award-winning Brewmasters.  To beer-lovers delight, Spec’s will bring in upwards of 20 Brewmasters/Founders and 80 Brew Brains to quench the literal and educational thirst of consumers interested in learning more about the festival’s 400 represented craft beers.  More than 15,000 suds sippers are expected to hoist a mug at the craft beer bonanza.

WHEN:  Labor Day Weekend, Friday thru Monday, September 2 to 5

WHERE: Moody Gardens Hotel, Spa & Convention Center, One Hope Boulevard, Galveston, 77554; (888-388-8484)

HIGHLIGHTS:

BREWTOPIA BEER GARDEN – Friday-Sunday, September 2-4, 4-10 p.m. Friday; noon-10 p.m. Sat/Sun

The family-friendly area under the big tent in the Oleander Bowl at Moody Gardens includes a new Krazy Kids Fun Zone, live music, food and of course beer! Entry to the BrewTopia Beer Garden is free, although the donation of canned goods or spare change is encouraged with contributions benefiting the Galveston County Food Bank in conjunction with hunger awareness month.

BREWTOPIA MUSIC LINE-UP:

Friday, Sept. 2   

4:30-6:30 p.m.                 David Grace

7-10 p.m.                            The Line Up

Saturday, Sept. 3

Noon-2 p.m.                       Free Radicals

2:15-3:45 p.m.                  The Hit Squad

4-6:30 p.m.                        Wearemantis

7-8 p.m.                               Mr. Blacc Sheep and Bigga Staar

8:15-10 p.m.                      D.R.U.M.

Sunday, Sept. 4

Noon-2:30 p.m.               The Navigators

3-5 p.m.                               Paul Ramirez Band

5:30-7:30 p.m.                 Texas Brass Band

8-9:30 p.m.                        ZWEE

BREWLICIOUS IN THE BALLROOM – Friday, September 2, 6:30 -10 p.m.

Located at the Moody Gardens Hotel’s Francis Anne Moody Ballroom, BrewLicious in the Ballroom will feature restaurants and chefs showcasing unique food and beer pairing samples.  Tickets to the event are $55, with a VIP Premium Room upgrade ticket for $75.

PUB PARTY CRAWL – Friday, September 2, 8 p.m. start from Moody Gardens Hotel Lobby

Tour Galveston Island’s featured hot spots in an air conditioned bus and meet Brew Brains along the way while sampling their crafts.  Tickets are $20; includes BrewMasters coozie, T-shirt and reserved seat on Moody Garden’s bus.

BREWMASTERS 5K ROCK & RUNSaturday, September 3, 6 a.m. onsite registration; 7 a.m. walk/run

Party on the Pavement sponsored by Coca-Cola and held at Moody Gardens.  The race will be a timed fun run, followed by a 5K walk.  A post-event awards ceremony takes place at 8:45 a.m. and includes complimentary “fitness friendly” beer.  Participants may register online at www.signmeupsports.com/77924  or download a race brochure at www.brewmastersbeerfest.com.   Entry fees paid by August 27 are $20; fees paid August 28 thru race day are $25.  The BrewMasters 5K Rock & Run benefits Galveston County Food Bank Gleanings From the Harvest, a non-profit whose mission is to find and distribute surplus food to organizations that serve the hungry.

TEXAS BREWERY TASTING TOUR – Saturday, September 3, 11:30 a.m.  at Moody Gardens ConventionCenter Floral Rooms   —  Exclusive meet and greet and sampling with emerging and wildly successful Texas craft brewery Brewmasters representing No Label, Saint Arnold, Karbach Brewing, Southern Star, Austin Beerworks, Ranger Creek, Rahr & Sons, and Real Ale.  Tickets $25; limited to 50 guests.

BREWHAHA GRAND TASTINGS & KEG KORNER – Saturday & Sunday, September 3-4, 2 p.m. VIP; 3-6:30 p.m. at Moody Gardens Convention Center — Sample some of the best of brews featuring 400 craft and specialty brews, more than 30 wines, and Brew Brain seminars on the Spec’s University stage.  Admission to Brew HaHa is $35 in advance, $40 at the door, $75 for a VIP ticket, or purchase a VIP or general admission two-day Spec’s Hopper Pass.

BrewHaHa Brew Brain Seminars

Moderated by Justin Cody, Craft & High-end Import Buyer, Spec’s Wine, Spirits & Finer Foods

Grant Wood, Senior Brewing Manager, Samuel Adams (Boston, MA)

Gregg Berman, Owner, Clown Shoes Beer (Massachusetts)

Craig Pijanowski, Lead Brewer, Boulevard Brewing (Kansas City, MO)

Eric Warner, Founder and Brewmaster of Karbach Brewing – Houston’s newest Brewery opening in September and featuring their brews first at BrewMasters Craft Beer Festival

Rick Lovett, Owner/Founder, Indian Wells Brewing (Inyokem, CA)

John DeMers, Author & Radio Host, “Delicious Mischief” (Houston, TX)

BEER DINNERS & BRUNCH – Saturday & Sunday, September 3-4 at Shearn’s Restaurant/Moody Gardens

Shearn’s 4-course Beer Pairing Dinner to feature Samuel Adams beer (Saturday and Sunday at 6:30 p.m. for $85) and hosted by Samuel Adams Lead Brewer Grant Wood (appearance Saturday only); South of the Border Beer Brunch with Victoria, Modelo, Pacifica, and Corona Beer (Sunday only from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. for $35) in the Frances Anne Moody Ballroom.

FIREWORKS SPECTACULAR – Sunday, September 4 at 8:45 p.m. 

Celebrate Labor Day Weekend with a bang at this fireworks extravaganza held over the water at Moody Gardens.  Free to the public.

BLUES & BREWS – Monday, September 5, noon to 4 p.m.

Craftapolooza Poolside Terrace at Moody Gardens Hotel with live music and happy hour craft beer pricing.

SPONSORS:  The BrewMasters Craft Beer Festival is presented by Spec’s Wine, Spirits and Finer Foods.  Additional sponsors include Moody Gardens Hotel, Spa and Convention Center, Alex Rodriguez Mercedes- Benz | Sprinter, Galveston Island Convention and Visitors Bureau, Toasted Head, CultureMap, Cumulus Radio (ESPN 97.5, KRBE 104.1, and KHJK 103.7, Draft Magazine, The Greensheet, WHERE Magazine, Houston Press, Shiner, Blue Moon, Leinenkugel’s, Great Brewers, DaFalco’s Home Wine and Beer Supplies, AT&T and Coca-Cola.

BOOK HOTEL:   Moody Gardens Hotel is offering a special BrewMasters package for the festival weekend.  To book a hotel package, visit www.moodygardenshotel.com or call 888-388-8484.  For additional hotel reservation options, visit www.galveston.com.

MORE INFO & TICKETS:    www.brewmastersbeerfest.com or call 713-557-5732

Sharks: Fact vs. Fiction


A recent string of shark sightings along the Texas Gulf Coast has sparked a flurry of media interest and has beach-goers questioning their safety in the salty waters. According to recent reports, two large sharks were caught from the shorelines at Crystal Beach and Matagorda Bay and a college student was bitten at Surfside Beach, adding to the animosity between man and fish that Steven Spielberg helped permeate our culture nearly four decades ago.

While the image of massive aquatic beasts breaking the surface to swallow anything in sight has been burned into our collective consciousness via Jaws or the Discovery Channel’s Shark Week, several experts, including those at Moody Gardens, say that sharks are misunderstood creatures and it’s important that humans learn to respect them and know how to safely share the ocean with them.

For any who are apprehensive about visiting Galveston and going to the beach because of what may be swimming beside them the water, here’s a breakdown of shark fact and fiction to help shed some light on whether or not their reputation is deserved.

FICTION: Increased sightings of sharks in the Texas Gulf Coast means I’m more likely to get bitten if I go swimming.

FACT: Instances of sharks attacking humans are extremely, extremely rare. According to Roy Drinnen, Moody Gardens’ assistant curator of fishes, while there are numerous sharks that make their home in the waters off Galveston Island, there have only been approximately 11 shark bites reported in the Galveston Bay area in the last 100 years.

“There are sharks out there. That’s their home. We basically are visitors when we go swimming. We have to expect them to be out there,” Drinnen said. “You have a better chance being struck by lightning or killed by a group of bees.”

FICTION: Sharks are a bigger threat to humans than humans are to sharks.

FACT: Humans are a huge threat to sharks, as overfishing is the biggest threat to their existence. A soup made from shark fins is a delicacy in many countries. Sharks are routinely caught and thrown back into the ocean to die after their fins are chopped off in a process called “finning.” Finning is now prohibited in the United States.

FICTION: There’s nothing you can do to reduce your chances of being attacked by a shark.

FACT: Swimmers can take numerous precautions to reduce their chances of being mistaken for prey by a shark. A few tips include:

  • Avoid swimming at dawn and dusk (sharks’ typical feeding time)
  • Avoid wearing any shiny, flashy clothing or jewelry that a shark can mistake for a fish in the Gulf’s murky waters
  • Leave the water if you are bleeding in any way, as sharks are attracted to the smell of blood.

Overall, sharks are beautiful animals that deserve respect more than fear. While sharks are plentiful in the Gulf of Mexico with approximately 15 species inhabiting the waters around Galveston, attacks are few and far between.

To learn more about sharks, visit the Sharks: In Depth exhibit, currently in the Aquarium Pyramid at Moody Gardens®.


RAINFOREST PYRAMID AT MOODY GARDENS® TAKES ROOT

When the Moody Gardens Rainforest Pyramid opens May 28, both first-time guests and regular Rainforest Pyramid patrons will marvel at the $25 million in enhancements that have transformed the attraction into a tropical paradise unlike any other in the nation.  The bright green leaves, colossal trunks, multicolored flowers and fresh fruit of more than 1,000 species of exotic flora will flourish inside the pyramid.  Free-roaming mammals, colorful birds, insects and reptiles will help propagate the forest, assisting with pollination.  What was once a botanical garden is now a living, breathing rainforest.

As educational as it is entertaining, the Rainforest Pyramid is designed to inspire guests to join the ongoing race to save the rainforest.  This one-of-a-kind attraction is central to the Moody Gardens conservation and education mission, and it is an expression of gratitude to the disappearing rainforests of the world.

Despite their unique beauty and ecological importance, rainforests of the world are vanishing quickly.  More than 12 million acres are being stripped every year for cattle farming, logging, and other trade and development.  In a single century, 90 percent of West Africa’s coastal rainforests disappeared.  Without tree cover, the once-moist soil of the rainforest turned quickly into dry, loose sand.  This human-induced change in land cover converted countries like Nigeria and Ghana into desert, causing decades of drought, famine and death that persist today.

Nearly half of all prescription drugs in the United States have active ingredients derived from rainforest plants, treating maladies like gastrointestinal problems, arthritis, menopause, high blood pressure and even the common headache.  One rainforest plant from Madagascar yielded compounds for two important anti-cancer drugs that helped increase the 5-year survival rate of childhood leukemia from 10 percent to nearly 90 percent.

As one of the few authentic indoor rainforest replicas in the world, the Rainforest Pyramid at Moody Gardens hosts myriad plants and animals commonly found in African, Asian and American rainforests.

“Biodiversity is important in the rainforest, so we wanted to deliver an accurate representation of what would be found in these environments,” said Donita Brannon, Horticultural Exhibit Manager of the Rainforest Pyramid®.

Each plant within the Rainforest Pyramid has its own story to tell.  Here are a few:

  • The Brazilian Beauty Leaf (Calophyllum brasiliens) is identified by distinctive white flowers and leaves.  But humans have another reason to admire this tree—the latex in the leaves contains three potent HIV-1 inhibitors.
  • Ylang-ylang (Cananga odorata) is a tree treasured for its delicate scent.  The flowers contain essential oils that are commonly used in skincare and aromatherapy products and also serve as the top note in Chanel No. 5, one of the best-selling perfumes in the world.  Besides its unique fragrance, ylang-ylang is used to treat motion sickness, lower high blood pressure and calm anxiety.
  • The largest plant in the Rainforest Pyramid is a 30-foot Sacred Fig (Ficus religiosa). The tree weighed approximately two tons when it was delivered and took three days to plant inside the pyramid.  Hindus and Buddhists consider the plant sacred because Siddhartha Gautama is believed to have been sitting under a Ficus religiosa when he achieved enlightenment.
  • The carnivorous Pitcher Plant uses a deep, liquid-filled sac to capture prey.  Bright colors lure insects into the “pitfall traps,” where they are drowned and dissolved by enzymes, then absorbed by the plant for nutrition.  Some larger species of Pitcher Plants even feed on reptiles and small mammals.
  • Other plants like cocoa, the cola nut, tapioca, vanilla, cinnamon and allspice are indigenous to the rainforest but end up in pharmacies, refrigerators and spice cabinets across the United States.

“Seeing all these plants in person is a truly unique opportunity that we hope will encourage visitors to help protect our rainforests as much as possible,” Brannon said.

Here’s a sneak peek at some of the plants that live in the Rainforest Pyramid® or click here if video below is not functioning:

RAINFOREST PYRAMID® UPDATE: Prehensile Tailed Porcupine

On May 28th, come “hang out” with Bobby-Sue and Bono! These two Prehensile Tailed porcupines (Coendou prehensilis) are just a few of the critters you’ll encounter in the nocturnal gallery at the Rainforest Pyramid® at Moody Gardens®.

Prehensile Tailed porcupines are found in the wild in Central and South America. These vegetarian, tree-dwelling rodents usually weigh between four and eleven pounds and their tails are almost as long as their whole body! They are covered in short, thick spines and their body color runs from yellowish to orange to brown. One of their defining characteristics is a small head with a round, bulbous nose which is covered by short and fine hair. They also have whiskers on the face and feet that help in maneuvering around at night.

This species is named for their unique tail, which is used a fifth hand to help hold onto branches as they climb throughout the canopy. The last 1/3 of the tail is spineless, enabling the animal to get a better grip on the tree branches. The front and hind feet are modified for grasping, which makes them excellent climbers. One thing they cannot do however is jump. While they will rarely descend to the ground, these porcupines will go to the forest floor if they need to cross a gap between trees.

A porcupine diet consists of twigs, leaves, fruits and vegetables. Like most rodents, their teeth will continue to grow throughout their lifetime so they will gnaw on hard things to file their teeth down. At night they will move around foraging for food and will spend most of the day sleeping.

These animals are not very well studied in the wild because they stay high in the trees and are slow moving and largely immobile during the day. It is known however, that these porcupines can be found in small social groups when sleeping, otherwise they are solitary or paired.

Porcupines have a built-in defense. While most of their body is covered in sharp quills, they are incapable of throwing them, which is a common misconception. These quills will detach easily when touched and imbed into the skin of an enemy. They have also been known to hit and bite their attackers and curl up into a ball when caught. When provoked, they will stomp their hind feet, sit on their haunches, shake their quills and emit deep growls and high pitched cries. These defenses are so formidable that Prehensile Tailed porcupines have the luxury of a longer lifespan and slower reproductive rate than most rodents.

After a 202 day gestation period, a female porcupine will usually give birth to a single offspring that will be covered in reddish-orange hair. This soft hair will eventually harden into quills. The baby will weigh around 14 ounces and can climb at birth.

Prehensile Tailed porcupines are not endangered, but face loss of habitat due to deforestation.

Watch the following video to learn more about Peter and Egon and come meet them in person May 28th at the Rainforest Pyramid®!

(Click here if the following video is not functioning)

RAINFOREST PYRAMID® UPDATE: Prevost’s Squirrel

On May 28th, Experience Life in a whole new way and meet Peter and Egon, two Prevost’s squirrels (Callosciurus prevostii) who will be free-roaming in the Rainforest Pyramid® at Moody Gardens®.

These two brilliantly colored squirrels are actually the offspring of squirrels who were evacuated out of the pyramid due to Hurricane Ike and were relocated to the San Antonio Zoo. The S.A. Zoo had success in breeding the squirrels, so Moody Gardens decided to not interfere with the program, but to take some of the offspring.

In the wild, Prevost’s squirrels are found in south-east Asia. They are the most colorful of all squirrels. Their back and tail are glossy black in color and their belly and legs are bright, chestnut red. They also have a white band that extends along the sides from the nose to the base of the tail. Prevost’s squirrels have short forelimbs with a small thumb and longer hind limbs. They have sharp claws for clinging to tree branches and soft pads on the soles of their feet.

These small creatures are active during the day and dwell in the tree-top canopies. A hollowed out tree or a nest of leaves high in the canopy is usually where the squirrel will make its home. They are excellent at jumping and climbing and can jump considerable gaps between the trees. Their long bushy tails help them balance when they run and climb and they also act a rudder when they jump. On the ground, Prevost’s squirrels move in a sequence of graceful leaps, often pausing to raise their heads and look around.

Their diet consists of fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds and sometimes bugs and small eggs. They have a single pair of chisel shaped incisors in each jaw and a large gap in front of the premolars due to the absence of canine teeth. These teeth will grow continuously throughout their lives, so the squirrels will gnaw on wood to file them down. When feeding, they will squat on their haunches while holding the food between their front paws. They will also carry fruit far from the tree of origin and drop seeds when they are finished with their meal. With the seeds far from the parent tree, there is a decreased likelihood of the seeds being eaten by other animals and a good opportunity for a new generation of trees to be produced.

Prevost’s squirrels are sexually mature at one year of age and females will give birth to a litter of two to three pups after a five week gestation period. Infants are born naked, toothless and helpless. At about six weeks of age the offspring will be fully furred and will start to venture out of the burrow.

While these squirrels are not endangered, they are threatened due to loss of habitat and pet trade. So, come meet Peter and Egon when the Rainforest Pyramid® at Moody Gardens® opens on May 28th!

Fun facts:

  • Unlike their ground squirrel cousins, Prevost’s squirrels do not hibernate.
  • Their generic name Callosciurus means “beautiful squirrel”.
  • Prevost’s squirrels use their tails to communicate.

Watch the following video to learn more about Peter and Egon and come meet them in person May 28th at the Rainforest Pyramid®!

(Click here if the following video is not functioning)

RAINFOREST PYRAMID® UPDATE: African Palm Civet

Don’t call her a weasel!  Come meet Zinga, our African Palm Civet who lives in the nocturnal animal exhibit at the Moody Gardens® Rainforest Pyramid®. The African Palm Civet (Nandinia binotata) is a small cat-like relative of weasels and mongooses and is one of the many mammals you’ll meet on your adventure when the Rainforest Pyramid® reopens on May 28th.

African Palm Civets are found in the forests of eastern and central Africa and are threatened due to loss of habitat. They will usually weigh between 3.7 to 4.6 pounds and are brown to light tan in color with a mottled series of darker brown spots. The fur is darker on the top half of the body to help the Civet stay camouflaged in the trees. The Civet also has bare pink pads on its feet to help provide cushioning and friction while they move and hunt. It also has a thick, muscular tail which helps with balance.  These omnivores (both meat and plant eating) will use its back feet and tail to grip and balance on branches while using its front feet to grab and manipulate prey. It will then finish off its prey with a series of fast bites. If the prey is small enough, it may swallow it whole.

Civets are arboreal (tree dwelling), solitary and crepuscular, meaning only active at dawn and dusk. Females will usually give birth to up to four young after two months of gestation. Also, the female’s mammary glands secrete an orange-yellow liquid that turns the mother’s belly and the offspring’s fur orange-yellow. It is thought this is a deterrent for males wanting to mate and to protect the young from attacks. An adult male African Palm Civet may occupy a territory of over 250 acres with up to three females occupying the same territory. Each female will have her own patch of land and will only share it with their offspring. Adult male and female civets hardly socialize, but they will keep track of each other using siren-like calls.

Smell something? Civets have scent glands on their feet and tail that secrete a fruit-like smell. These scents are used for a variety of purposes.

Watch the following video to meet Zinga and come see her and her friends on May 28th at the Rainforest Pyramid®!

(Click here if the following video is not functioning)

RAINFOREST PYRAMID® UPDATE: Giant Otters

You “otter” see this! Come meet the newest residents of Moody Gardens® when life emerges on May 28th at the Rainforest Pyramid®. On your adventure you’ll meet Dru, Ella and Yzma, three Giant Otters (Pteronura brasiliensis) who came to Moody Gardens® on December 17 of last year.

Giant Otters are a carnivorous mammal native to South America and found mostly in the Amazon River and the Pantanal, which is an area of tropical wetland in Brazil. Otters are members of the weasel family (Mustelidae) and have the longest body length in the species. In some cases, males have reached reported lengths of over seven feet. Males in general will be about 4.9 to 5.9 feet, while females will reach lengths of about 4.9 to 5.6 feet.

These noisy mammals have the shortest fur of all otter species and it’s usually chocolate-brown, reddish or fawn in coloration. This fur is extremely dense so much so that water cannot penetrate to the skin. Guard hairs trap water and keep the inner fur dry. These hairs are about one third of an inch long and are twice as long as the fur of the inner coat. Giant Otters also have unique markings of white or cream colored fur on the throat and under the chin, which allows individuals to be identified from birth. It is believed that these markings are used by the otter to identify each other. When meeting each other for the first time, otters will engage in a behavior known as “periscoping”. When “periscoping”, otters will pop their heads and chests out of the water to display their markings to the other. They are also characterized by their small, rounded ears and their short and stubby legs that end in large webbed feet equipped with very sharp claws that help them catch prey.  Giant Otters also have highly sensitive whiskers (vibrissae) that track changes in water pressure and currents, which aids in detecting prey.

Giant Otters are diurnal, which means they are active exclusively during daylight hours. They are excellent hunters and have extremely keen senses of smell and sight. They are apex predators, meaning they have no serious natural enemies. A Giant Otter’s diet usually consists of fish, but they have also been known to eat crabs, snakes and even small Caimans. These natives of South America like to talk too.  They are the noisiest of any otter species and they have vocalizations that indicate alarm, aggressiveness and reassurance just to name a few.

This species of otter is unusually social for a member of the weasel family. In Spanish, they are known as Lobos Del Rio(Wolves of River) and Perro de Agua (Water Dog) because they live and hunt in packs like canines. They can live in groups of anywhere from two to twenty, but the average group size is three to eight. These groups are strongly cohesive. Members will sleep, play, travel and feed together. Group members will share roles, structured around a dominant breeding pair. This species is highly territorial and they will mark their territory with latrines, gland secretions and vocalizations. Dens are built into the riverbanks and are usually equipped with multiple entrances and chambers. After a 65-70 day gestation period, females will give birth to around one to five pups. After two years the young otters reach full maturity and will leave the family group permanently.

Giant Otters have been categorized as endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) since 1999 as a result from poaching and loss of habitat. Moody Gardens® is one of six zoos and aquariums in North America that feature Giant Otters.

Watch the following video to learn about Dru, Ella and Yzma’s journey and see how they are adapting to their new home here at Moody Gardens. (Click here if the video below is not working.)

Easter in the Gardens Returns!

Are you still on the hunt for Easter plans? We’ve got you covered! Join us for our annual Easter in the Gardens this Easter Sunday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Moody Gardens. We are also hosting not one, but two delicious Easter buffets that the entire family can enjoy!

Easter in the Gardens:

We have lots of exciting activities for the kiddos to enjoy! Starting with our very own petting zoo where children can get up close and personal with some cute and cuddly animals such as chicks, bunnies and miniature ponies. The fun doesn’t stop there, there will also be arts & crafts, music, face painting and games & prizes.

Whatever you do, just make sure you don’t miss one of our two Easter Egg Hunts where children 12 and under can enjoy the pursuit of brightly colored, candy-filled happiness (otherwise known as eggs!). Egg hunts will take place at noon and 2 p.m. in the Oleander Bowl. Participants are invited to have their picture taken with the Easter Bunny inside the Moody Gardens Hotel so make sure to bring your camera!

Easter Buffets:

In addition to all of the activity outdoors, guests can enjoy a first-class meal at the Easter Sunday buffet in both the Garden Restaurant and at the Moody Gardens Hotel. While walk-ins are welcome at the Garden Restaurant, reservations are required for the Hotel buffet and can be made by calling 409-741-8484, ext. 4465.

The Garden Restaurant buffet will feature shrimp Victoria, pecan-crusted mahi-mahi and chicken le garde on a bed of creamy marsala with an assortment of sides, breads and desserts for only $21.95 for adults, $17.95 for seniors, and $11.95 for children (children 4 and under are free with complimentary adult purchase). Click here for a full menu and more information or call 1-800-582-4673 extension 4238.

The Moody Gardens Hotel will serve chilled shrimp and crab claws, roasted leg of lamb, prime rib of pork, carved roast sirloin and herb and parmigiano tilapia – all with an assortment of sides, salads and desserts for $38.95 for adults, $29.95 for seniors and $17.95 for children ages 4-12 (children under 4 are free). Click here for a full menu and more information or call 409-741-8484, extension 4465.

We wish everyone a happy and safe Easter and we hope you can all join us! If you have questions, comments, concerns, fun Easter stories/plans/traditions you want to share, then don’t hesitate to leave us a comment below!

RAINFOREST PYRAMID® UPDATE: White-faced Saki monkeys

At Moody Gardens, we don’t monkey around. But, we have some residents of the rainforest who do. White-faced Saki monkeys will be roaming the tree tops of the rainforest along with many other fascinating creatures when the Rainforest Pyramid opens May 28th.

White-faced Sakis (Pithecia pithecia) are found in Brazil, French Guyana, Suriname, Venezuela and Guyana. These small monkeys are usually about two to three pounds and can measure up to 29 inches long. They are arboreal (tree living), active during the day and rarely go to the ground. Some have even been found 2,300 feet up in the canopy! These monkeys are fast moving and shy, so very little is known about their behavior in the wild. What we do know is that they eat fruit, leaves, flowers, small birds and small mammals and they move mainly in leaps. Jumps of over 32 feet have actually been recorded by these tiny leapers!

Adult male Sakis are black with a white face and females are a brownish gray color with a narrow stripe on their face between the inner eye and mouth. These monkeys are dichromatic (males are different colors from females) which is a rare trait among Central and South American primates. They have long shaggy coats that protect them from rain and non-prehensile, bushy tails.

These monkeys live in small family groups consisting of the parents and usually two to three offspring. After a 146 day pregnancy, the infant Saki will be born and males and females will have the same brownish gray coloration of the mother. After two months, males will start to take on the coloration of the father. The infants are carried in the flexure of female’s thigh for the first few weeks, but will gradually be carried on the back of the mother.  Sakis communicate by bird-like chirping sounds and they display aggression by fluffing up their body hair and vigorously shaking their body while stomping their feet.

The status of these animals in the wild is vulnerable. Deforestation leading to loss of habitat, as well as these animals being hunted has led to them being threatened. So, come see Frankie, Clyde and Lionel when life emerges on May 28th!

Please see the video below to learn more about these interesting inhabitants of the rainforest (or click here if no video below).