King Penguin Chick Joins Moody Gardens Family

Well, folks, we have good news to share with you.

On Monday, Feb. 15, we welcomed our first king penguin chick of the year into the world! The newborn weighed in at healthy 190 grams and is growing rapidly by the minute! Lando and Littlefoot are the parents.

We found shell fragments during our morning cleaning, and sure enough, egg had hatched! Throughout the breeding season, our role is to monitor that parents are, well, being the parents. We are there to make sure the birds are healthy and provide support only when needed.

King Chick Being from the Southern Hemisphere of the world, and more specifically, South Georgia Island, the penguins observe opposite seasons from Texas. This makes winter in the Continental U.S. their summer time and the prime breeding season. King penguins, unlike their smaller counterparts such as chinstrap and gentoo penguins, carry the unhatched eggs and newborns in between their feet while the parents take turns. Because of the way the eggs are handled, penguin eggs are much thicker and more durable than regular bird eggs. The incubation period of this species of penguins is longer than that of the smaller species and lasts about two months. Once chicks are born, they also take longer to become full grown.

Speaking of smaller species, we now have a total of four gentoo chicks, all growing healthy, in the back holding area of the South Atlantic Exhibit, where they will remain until they are fledged out and are strong enough to swim. While penguins are built to swim, as chicks, they seem to trade cuteness for buoyancy. By doing this, we can prevent any accidents.

The king chick will be on exhibit with its parents for a few more weeks. Check our Webcam periodically to catch us feeding the birds or just simply watch them chill out.

Stay cool,
Chris St. Romain
Moody Gardens Penguin Biologist

Celebrate Romance and Revelry in the Gardens

February on the island is a time for lovers and also the perfect time to experience first hand how the island comes to life with the grandest celebration of the season.

Moody Gardens has unveiled special packages for Valentines Day romance and Mardi Gras festivities. Whether you’re saying “I love you” all over again with an intimate Island getaway or having the time of your life at the biggest party of the season, our custom packages are the perfect way to celebrate.

The special Moody Gardens Hotel Valentine’s Retreat packages include a luxurious room for two for one night, a split of champagne to enjoy in room, a long stem red rose, and chocolate covered strawberries. Packages are available on Saturday, Feb. 13 starting at $199 per night and Sunday, Feb. 14 from $159 per night. For reservations or more information, call 888-388-8484 or visit www.moodygardenshotel.com.

Shearn's LoungeEnjoy a romantic dinner for two at the fabulous four diamond Shearn’s Restaurant with our special Valentine’s menu. This lover’s feast includes a divine four course meal with such offerings as seared snapper, prime filet mignon, panned veal chop, mushroom pasta, and a decadent dessert – a chocolate Chambord heart. The Shearn’s Valentine’s Dinner will be offered on Feb. 13 and 14 from 5:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. Reservations are required with the last reservation at 9:30 p.m. each evening.  Prices are $75 per person. For reservations, call 409-741-8484.

The Spa at Moody Gardens invites you to rekindle the romance and share a delightfully decadent Valentine’s Day with the one you love. Enjoy a private spa couple’s suite, or treat that someone special to a day of pampering of their very own with one of our custom Spa packages.

The Champagne Bubbles & Chocolate Strawberry Cream Couple’s Escape package will indulge you and the one you love with a divine Chunky Chocolate Body Polish and soothing Champagne Bubble Bath, followed by a 25-minute Swedish massage for two with a sensuous Strawberry Cream Lotion.  Relax and share a complimentary champagne toast and chocolate truffles. The package also includes a Gift Set featuring our signature 4oz Chunky Chocolate Scrub & Strawberry Cream body lotion. The package is priced at $300 for couples or $150 for individuals. For Spa appointments or more information on all of the spa offerings, call 409-683-4440.

Couples can also keep their love afloat on the Colonel Paddlewheel Boat Dinner Cruise sails around Galveston Offatts Bayou Saturday, Feb. 13. The two-hour boat ride will feature a DJ, dance floor and a dinner buffet in addition to plenty of romantic moments. To make memories last, passengers can get a Colonel Paddlewheel Boat special souvenir wine glass filled with champagne or wine for $7.50. A cash bar will also be available. The cost for the Valentine Dinner Cruise is $45 per person. Boarding starts at 7 p.m., and the paddlewheel boat will sail from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. For reservations and information, please call 1-800-582-4673 ex. 4352.

In addition, when it comes to making memories, Moody Gardens is always a great place for couples as well as couples with children. How about a casual movie date at the IMAX® 3D Theater with the biggest 3D screen in the Houston area? Couples can also share bonding moments at the beautiful seaside-link Moody Gardens Golf Course. To impress your special someone, take your honey to meet a real penguin with the Penguin Encounter program.

Romantic Dinner Cruise to Sail Feb. 13

Couples can keep their love afloat this Valentine’s Day as the Colonel Paddlewheel Boat Dinner Cruise sails around Galveston Offatts Bayou Saturday, Feb. 13. The two-hour boat ride will feature a DJ, dance floor and a dinner buffet in addition to plenty of romantic moments.

“Fun, romantic, or both, the night is yours, and you can make it however you want it to be,” said Joy Cowan, Colonel Paddlewheel executive director. “Being on the water makes it even more special.”

To make memories last, passengers can get a Colonel Paddlewheel Boat special souvenir wine glass filled with champagne or wine for $7.50. A cash bar will also be available.

Colonel Paddlewheel Boat is an authentic replica of an 1800 style Paddlewheeler. The charming 800-passenger paddlewheel boat takes guests on year-round hour-long cruises in Offatts Bayou.  The boat also features climate-controlled Galveston and Texas Rooms with large dance floors, which can be booked for private dinners and parties.

The cost for the Valentine Dinner Cruise is $45 per person. Boarding starts at 7 p.m., and the paddlewheel boat will sail from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. For reservations and information, please call 1-800-582-4673 ex. 4352.

Colonel Paddlewheel Boat

Mardi Gras Ball for Special People

Special People's BallPerhaps, one of your new year’s resolutions was to meet new people, get involved in the community or volunteer more. Well, you can do all of that by volunteering at this fun event.

No one needs to miss out on the Mardi Gras experience in Galveston. Moody Gardens will host the 24th Annual Mardi Gras Ball for Special People on Sunday, Feb. 7. Annually celebrated by thousands of people with special needs, this free event is hosted by Moody Gardens and made possible by hundreds of volunteers who contribute their time, supplies and services.

This year’s theme is Masquerede, and entertainment will include a local Galveston band Mid-Life Crisis.  To make the event free to all attendees, contributions have been made by numerous volunteers, Moody Gardens and other local businesses. Participants can enjoy donated food, refreshments, plenty of beads, clowns, face painters and a dance contest. This year, there will also be a costume contest and costumed characters.

We are looking for volunteers to assist with the table set-up, decorations, ushering, serving food and dancing with the guests. It’s a win-win situation where both participants and volunteers can have a good time.

The event is scheduled for 12 noon to 4 p.m. at the Moody Gardens Convention Center Expo A and B. For event registration and volunteer information, please contact Moody Gardens® at 800-582-4673, ext. 4108.

AT A GLANCE
What: Mardi Gras Ball for Special People
When: Sunday, Feb. 7, 12 p.m. – 4 p.m.
Where: Moody Gardens Convention Center Expo A&B
Who: People with special needs and their immediate family members are invited. Volunteers are always welcome and appreciated.
Information: 800-582-4673 ex. 4108 or volunteers@moodygardens.com

Second Annual Penguin Groundhog Day

Penguin ShadowIf you are anxious to know when this arctic winter is going to be over with, you are in luck. This Groundhog Day, a real Moody Gardens penguin will forecast spring on Galveston Island at Moody Gardens Tuesday, Feb. 2 in anticipation of spring break. In groundhog fashion, an Aquarium Pyramid bird will make its own prediction based on whether or not it sees its shadow. The penguin will then communicate with Greg Whittaker, Moody Gardens animal husbandry manager, who will translate the “Penguish” declaration into the human language.

General public is invited to witness the Penguin Groundhog Day ceremony and proclamation. Admission is free. Please meet us in front of the Aquarium Pyramid.

AT A GLANCE
What: Penguin Groundhog Day
When: Tuesday, Feb. 2 at 10:30 a.m.
Where: Aquarium Pyramid (Outside)
Admission: Free and open to the public

Local Jewish Leader Tells Galveston Immigration Story

Rabbi Jimmy Kessler of Temple B`nai Israel will speak at Moody Gardens on Jan. 16 at 1 p.m. during the Cultural Speaker Series. The local leader will discuss the Galveston immigration through the perspective of the Jewish population.

Titled “Nu, Where Is Galveston?”, Rabbi Kessler’s presentation will highlight Galveston as the “Ellis Island of the West,” with topics including the “Galveston Plan” and the role the American Jewish played in the community.

The event is a part of the eight-month-long Cultural Speaker Series, which is held on the first and third Saturdays of each month in conjunction with the traveling exhibit, Forgotten Gateway: Coming to America through Galveston Island. Presentations are free and open to the public and give opportunities for individuals to participate in, while passing on the legacy of Texas settlers to the generations to come.

Forgotten Gateway chronicles the Port of Galveston’s largely forgotten history as a major gateway to American immigration from 1845 to 1924. The exhibit is the first of its kind to explore, on a national scale, Galveston’s legacy as a port of entry and its importance in shaping Texas and U.S. history.

We continues to encourage Galveston immigrants and their descendants to share their stories and artifacts by contacting 409-683-4215. Forgotten Gateway will be on exhibit through Sept. 11, and admission to the exhibit is $8.95 for adults and $6.95 for children and seniors. For more information about the Cultural Speaker Series and the Forgotten Gateway exhibit, please visit moodygardens.org or call 800-582-4673.

Jewish ImmigrantsAT A GLANCE
Event: Forgotten Gateway Cultural Speaker Series: Nu, Where Is Galveston?
Speaker: Rabbi Jimmy Kessler of Temple B`nai Israel
Date/ Time: 1 p.m., Saturday, Jan. 16
Location: Aquarium Pyramid Pompano Room, One Hope Blvd., Galveston
Admission: Free, open to the public
Information: 1-800-582-4673, moodygardens.org

Exhibit: Forgotten Gateway: Coming to America through Galveston Island
Admission: Adults $8.95, children (4-12) & seniors (65+) $6.95
About the Exhibit:
Galveston was a Southern equivalent of Ellis Island. With over 200 original artifacts, Forgotten Gateway chronicles the largely forgotten history of Galveston as a major immigration port between 1845 and 1924.

King Tux Picks a Baby Penguin Name

The winning name is SQUIRT! Congratulations and thank you to Laurel Sterling from Crosby, Texas for the great name! Laurel also won a family four-pack to the Moody Gardens attractions and a penguin encounter which gives her a chance to meet a real penguin up close and personal.

Having trouble viewing the video? Watch it on YouTube: Name the Baby Penguin Contest Winner Announced

Launch Unwanted Holiday Fruit Cakes and Recycle Christmas Trees at Moody Gardens on Jan. 2

Moody Gardens will host a Fruit Cake Launch and Christmas Tree Chunk on Jan. 2 with a mission to recycle and have some fun.

Conservation is a key part of our mission at Moody Gardens and this event is an example of something simple we can do to raise awareness and be  environmentally friendly in our community. Each year, Moody Gardens collaborates with the City of Galveston in an effort to recycle Christmas trees.  Visitors can bring their bare trees from this holiday season and “chunk” them into a pile to be recycled from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.  The fresh mulch will be used in plant beds around Moody Gardens and throughout the city. Those who wish to can also bring some mulch home with them.

An entertaining new tradition is being added to the event this year.  Visitors are invited to participate in the first annual Fruit Cake Launch from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m.  Rather than re-gifting their unwanted fruit cakes, we welcome people to bring them to launch on one of our two launchers for the chance to win a prize for the furthest flying cake.  The winner will receive a four-pack of tickets to all Moody Gardens attractions along with a Penguin Encounter where they will meet a real penguin. To enter the Fruit Cake Launch contest, visitors need to bring one nonperishable food item or $1 in cash to be donated to Gleanings From The Harvest. Guests may also purchase water balloons to launch for a donation of $1 per two balloons, also to be donated to Gleanings From The Harvest.

The festivities are scheduled to begin at 2 p.m. in the Moody Gardens west parking lot.  The event is open to the public.

At a Glance

Event: Fruit Cake Launch and Christmas Tree Chunk

Date / Time:  Jan. 2, 2010, 2 p.m.

Admission: Free and open to the public, to participate in Fruit Cake Launch please bring one nonperishable food item or $1 cash to donate

Moody Gardens Holiday Golf Tournament Collects Many Toys

Kids'smas Toy Drive at Moody Gardens Golf Course
Kids'smas Toy Drive at Moody Gardens Golf Course

Golfers enjoyed the sport while helping make the holiday season bright for children in Galveston County Sunday, Dec. 20, during the Merry Kids’smas Scramble, a holiday golf tournament combined with a toy drive. This event was brought back to life as a tradition from the Galveston Municipal Golf Course. We collected over 75 new toys including bicycles, games, dolls and trucks for the children of the Resource and Crisis Center of Galveston County.

Players and community members generously donated new toys throughout the month of December, and the toy drive ended with the Merry Kids’smas Scramble Golf Tournament on Sunday. We thank all of you who made generous contributions to benefit the kids in our area.

Moody Gardens Golf Course

Name the Baby Penguin Contest!

Submit a name and you could win a penguin prize package for four and meet a real penguin!

Moody Gardens Penguin ChickEnter one of two ways:

1)    Submit your entry in the Registration Box at the Moody Gardens Aquarium Pyramid
2)    Email your entry to namethepenguin@moodygardens.com (Be sure to include your name, age, phone number and address with your email entry)

Contest dates:  Dec. 18, 2009 – Jan. 1, 2010
Prize Awarded:  King Tux the Moody Gardens Penguin Mascot will choose the winning entry Jan. 3

Please note: Contestants must be accompanied by an adult 18 years or older to use their prize.