Ever wondered what these tuxedo wearing birds enjoy eating? Where they’re from? Celebrated annually on April 25thWorld Penguin Day is a day that is meant to show appreciation to these cool birds and learn things such as biology, origin and more. In honor of this holiday we thought to include some cool information…enjoy!
Worldwide there are currently 17 species of penguin.
These flightless birds can be located mostly in the Southern Hemisphere from Antarctica to other places like South Africa and New Zealand.
Spending the majority of their time in the water their diet consists of seafood life such as fish, squid and krill.
The prominent black/white coat is used as a form of camouflage from predators in the water. From below their white chest blends in against the surface of the water and from above their black back appears like the dark depths of the ocean.
During breeding season most species of penguin will build nests of rocks in preparation of a chick.
Once a penguin has laid an egg most species share the incubation, while the other seeks food.
Once the egg has hatched the chick will begin calling the parents to get them to recognize its voice. As you can imagine this helps a lot when the chick is left with a huge group!
Be sure to stop by the Moody Gardens Aquarium Pyramid, the largest aquarium in Texas. With 1.5 million gallons of water, the building houses life from four distinct ocean environments including more than 80 penguins such as Gentoo, Rockhopper, Macaroni, Chinstrap and King Penguins. Recent upgrades were made to the penguin exhibit earlier this year showcasing a swankier, brighter living space for our little friends.
I’m sure most have heard the saying, “There’s strength in numbers.” For one ant colony at the Moody Gardens Rainforest Pyramid this proves to be true. Located in the browse boxes of the Rainforest, one in the canopy level and the other towards the exhibit’s exit, resides the largest Leaf Cutter Ant (Atta Cephalotes) colony in Texas. Hailing from various tropical paradises in Central and South America, Leaf Cutter Ants are responsible for 20% of all plant consumption in the rainforests.
Consisting of hundreds of thousands female ants, work duties are based on a caste system. Within this pure feminist society are four different types of ants whose sole purpose is to care for and protect the queen. Soldiers, normally the largest of the ants defend the nest from intruders. Cutters are the worker ants that spend their time cutting leaves and returning them to the nest. Guards are the first line of defense and attack anything that may pose a threat. Minims, the smallest of the workers play a vital role in maintaining the colony as they are the caretakers of the fungal garden as well as the queen.
From the time we exit our mother’s womb, we are groomed to be self-sufficient individuals in order to one day run our own successful households. This isn’t too far-fetched for Leaf Cutter Ants. When a virgin queen leaves her mother’s nest, she will mate with multiple males during “nuptial flight.” During this process the males will die off and she will collect the sperm she needs in order to begin her own colony. She will then dig a tunnel and burrow herself into a chamber known as a “fungal garden.” For a few years, she will nourish the fungus brought from her mother’s colony in order to begin her own. Queens can live anywhere from 15-20 years of age. Upon her death the entire colony dies out with her.
The Rainforest Pyramid at Moody Gardens offers a huge variety of plant life to offer the colony as the ants cut daily. Be sure to stop by and get your own glimpse of these amazing creatures in action!
On April 23 you can start the day with a yoga class in the morning, and then take part in gardens tours, a treasure hunt, arts and crafts, and a free milkweed plant giveaway throughout the day as supplies last. We will also be having an Earth Day Expo in the Garden Lobby with speakers that will focus on composting, rainwater harvesting, hummingbirds and nesting birds. You can also attend presentations on gardening and sustainable cooking on Saturday.
Throughout the weekend you can check out the Rainforest Pyramid to witness a breathtaking tribute to rapidly vanishing wonders of Africa, Asia and the Americas that will showcase some of the issues that are having a negative impact in the wild. We will also be holding Keeper Chats with Moody Gardens biologists with a variety of animals that range from butterflies and birds to komodo dragons and more. Staff will lead discussions on important environmental issues as visitors can learn how to better protect the planet for the future. Sunday, there will also be free live musical entertainment for you and your family to enjoy.
The Moody Gardens “ZOOpermarket” will be open the entire weekend inside the Rainforest Pyramid allowing you to learn about palm oil and how environmentally friendly your food is. In addition to the “ZOOpermarket” you can take part in arts and crafts tables on both Saturday and Sunday.
We will also be offering a special $29.95 Combo Pass to visit the Aquarium and Rainforest Pyramids April 22-24. One Earth, One Choice is possible with the partnership of the Friends of Moody Gardens. For the complete One Earth, Once Choice schedule, visit our website.
At Moody Gardens we are dedicated to educating the community on nature, animals, and conservation. Part of the way that we do this is through different Keeper Chats and scheduled activities throughout the year. As Spring and Fall migrations offer fantastic birding on Galveston Island, we offer our Birding Classes during which you are given a chance to go out into the field with our Animal Husbandry Manager, Greg Whitaker.
Birding 101 is a series of beginner level birding classes focused on the basics of birdwatching with a unique focus each month on timely, relevant subjects. Reservations are not required for Birding 101, if you would like to attend please meet at the 4-D theater in the Visitors Center. The day will start off there with a short classroom style presentation followed by a leisurely walk around the Moody Gardens property. While looking around, Greg will discuss and point out the diversity that we have to offer on site. The next Birding 101 is scheduled for April 9, 2016 from 9am-11am.
If after Birding 101 you are looking for something a level up, we also offer Birding 201, offered on the third Saturday of the month.. This is a series of field trips that are geared towards the beginning level birders. Most trips will be combined with the Galveston County Audubon Group’s field trips and offer an opportunity for you to interact with more experienced local birders. Seats in the van for this trip are limited, so reservations are required. If you are interested please contact Greg directly at 409.683.4101. The next Birding 201 field trip is scheduled for May 21, 2016.
Feather Fest is also happening on Galveston from April 14-17. The fest boasts over 100 field trips, workshops, the Birds of Prey Raptor Show, and a screening of Audubon The Film! More information about the fest can be found on their website.
There is still time to catch Star Wars: Episode VII The Force Awakens 3D at Moody Gardens in our state of the art theater!
Thirty years ago the Empire was defeated and now a new threat, the First Order has risen from the ashes of the Empire. A scavenger named Rey has come into contact with a droid that contains a map to the legendary Luke Skywalker, who has vanished. Rey and a rogue storm trooper named Finn find themselves in a monumental conflict between good and evil that will see faces old and new.
Experience the action at it plays out not only on the largest screen in Texas, but on one that features the world’s first 4K 3D Giant Screen 6 Primary Laser Projection System. What this means is that you will be immersed in 11.1 surround sound with Auro 3D on our Texas sized screen allowing the spectacular special effects of the film to be featured in the optimal setting for the best viewing experience in the world!
Take photos with your favorite Star Wars characters before the show Saturday, March 26! Stormtroopers and other characters will be roaming around Moody Gardens later in the afternoon before the 5:10 p.m. showing.
Star Wars: Episode VII The Force Awakens 3D runs through spring break until March 27. Tickets for the film are included in our Day Pass or Two Day Value Pass as well as can be purchased separately for $10.95 for adults, $8.95 for children and seniors, and children 3 and under are free. View our MG 3D Theater film schedule, or purchase tickets.
From adventuring in the Rainforest Pyramid to the taking a sunset cruise on The Colonel Paddlewheel Boat, there is something for you to make this Valentine’s Day memorable for those that you love.
On February 13 you can make plans with your sweetheart to set sail on a romantic sunset dinner cruise complete with a dinner buffet, DJ, and dancing. This cruise package includes your choice of a bottle of champagne or wine, a rose for your sweetheart, and a souvenir photo. Get a table for two for $200 or a table for four for $380. Seating is limited and reservations are required so be sure to make your reservations now by calling 1-800-582-4673 ext. 4368. For more details and table options, visit our website.
We also have our popular Aquarium Valentine’s Day Dinner on February 14. Dive into an underwater dining experience at the Moody Gardens Aquarium Pyramid. The evening includes a chef’s three-course dinner, your choice of a bottle of champagne or wine, a rose for your sweetheart, a souvenir photo, and Aquarium Pyramid admission with our biologists on hand to answer your questions about the Moody Gardens marine animals. Enjoy your romantic dinner while sharks and other beautiful sea creatures swim overhead. There is also the Sealed With A Kiss seating area that treats guests to a table by the seals and sea lions of the North Pacific Exhibit. These playful animals will add a splash of fun to your dining experience. Another option for you and your sweetheart are our Fishin’ For Love tables that have the colorful fish inhabitants provide the perfect backdrop for your romantic evening. The Tunnel of Love section is already sold out. Grab a peak at the seating chart hereand make your reservations by calling 1-800-582-4673 ext. 4368.
Love is in the air in the animal kingdom, too! For $29.95 you can join us on February 13 or 14 and see the plants and animals you love as you travel around the world in the Rainforest and Aquarium Pyramids with our Rainforest and Aquarium Combo ticket. Visit the seals, sharks, birds, and even Moody Gardens’ sweet new couple, our Cotton-top Tamarins Victor and Gracie. This is a great option if you are looking to involve the whole family in a Valentine’s Day activity.
For the entire month of February you can also enjoy theMoody Gardens Hotel Valentine’s Room Special.Be sure to book early because this deal is subject to hotel availability. The price is $229 for hotel room, chocolate covered strawberries and champagne, breakfast, and valet service.
You can also enjoy a wonderful Valentine’s Day meal at Shearn’s Seafood and Prime Steaks located in the Moody Gardens Hotel. The menu for the mouthwatering and carefully selected meal can be foundhere.
Finding Mr. or Mrs. Right in today’s day and age isn’t an easy task. With the success of the Internet, dating apps such as Tinder and Bumble have taken the place of matchmaking services for purposes of convenience. The skilled biologists at Moody Gardens have recently added matchmaker to their resumes as they successfully paired up and introduced two fuzzy Cotton-top Tamarins in the Rainforest Pyramid. This is a difficult feat as this process requires information to be sorted through an extensive database to find the ideal match. Both Victor and Gracie immediately took a liking to one another; so much so that he sweetly observed and presented his new lady’s favorite flower to her. Gracie willingly accepted the gift as her afternoon snack.
The Moody Gardens curatorial staff is very hopeful that the two will breed in the future. Tamarins thrive on companionship and usually live in large groups, with sometimes as many as fifteen members. Typically, female Tamarins give birth to non-identical twins and the father will take part in caring for the infant by carrying it on its back. Infant Tamarins are about 15-20% of the weight of an adult Tamarin so it will certainly be an endearing sight to see as you can imagine!
Native to the South American country of Colombia these petite primates spend most of their time in treetops feasting on fruit, bugs and flowers. Approximately 9 inches in height, they are among the smallest of the primates that are easily identified by their white flowing head of hair. Although small, these primates can produce close to 40 different vocalizations when communicating with family or other fellow Tamarins. The Cotton-top Tamarins reside in the Moody Gardens Rainforest Pyramid. This exhibit is home to various birds, mammals, amphibians and reptiles native to the rainforests around the world. Offering canopy and ground level views this immersive environment gives guests a one-of-a-kind experience.
With the weather getting colder and the holidays closer, one of our favorite things to do is watch Christmas movies with our family and friends. At Moody Gardens we bring holiday films to the next level by showing them not only in our 3D theater but our 4D Special FX Theater as well.
This year Moody Gardens is thrilled to present The Polar Express in our 4D Special FX Theater which combines 3D projection with audio and timed sensory elements. While watching one of the newer holiday classics guests can feel the wind in their face as the locomotive speeds down the rails and smell hot chocolate when it is served to the excited children aboard. Perhaps the most enchanting part of the experience, however, is the snow that falls inside of the theater at the same time that it falls in the film. The 4D experience engages all the senses and leaves guests wishing that they would wake up to the train outside of their house to bring them to the North Pole. There is no doubt that after the film children and adults alike are left still believing in the Christmas spirit… and hearing the bell!
To experience the sensory adventure of The Polar Express in our 4D Special FX Theater guests can purchase tickets in the Visitor Center for $10.95 for adults, $8.95 for children and seniors, and free for children under 3. If you have a day pass or membership the theaters are included for you to enjoy!
Some people think that age is just a number but at Moody Gardens it is something to celebrate, especially when one of our animals has a milestone birthday!
Wagner is one of 15 chinstrap penguins that we have in our Aquarium Pyramid® and she is the oldest of her species in all of North America! Wagner is turning 32 today which is big deal not only because she is the oldest penguin on this continent but because the general lifespan of her species is only in the mid-twenties.
While living in our South Atlantic Exhibit Wagner generally enjoys spending her time swimming but on her birthday we planned a little something extra. Wagner was presented with a special ice sculpture modeled after the Aquarium Pyramid® that she lives in and she seems to know that it was all about her today. She is typically more aloof. Today, she was frolicking in the water and interacting more and seemed to enjoy her birthday party. The children outside the exhibit also enjoyed her party, as they sang Happy Birthday to Wagner. Please join us in wishing Wagner a very happy 32nd birthday and send her a congratulatory message on being the oldest chinstrap penguin in North America!
Also be sure to see Wagner in person before the penguin exhibit temporarily closes from January 11-March 11 as part of the aquarium renovations. (Don’t worry though; the rest of the aquarium exhibits will still be open during this time.) Before the penguins go on hiatus there is still time to come visit our South Atlantic friends! You can get up close to our penguins as part of the Moody Gardens Public Penguin Encounter. The encounter lasts for 45-minutes and allows you to get up close to one of our penguins like Wagner. During your experience you are led by a Moody Gardens biologist from the front of the exhibit to behind the scenes of the penguin food preparation kitchen and then to the back of the chilly penguin exhibit. This is all while discussing penguin biology, conservation, training, enrichment and care with your Moody Gardens biologist.
Come experience the cool climate and sounds of the exhibit and witness a penguin create a work of art with a penguin painting as part of an enrichment activity for the animal! More information on the Moody Gardens Public Penguin Encounter can be found here. You can even purchase a penguin painting in our Aquarium Gift Shop. Proceeds from the painting go toward animal conservation projects. It’s a very unique gift for the animal lover in your life!
Coming to Moody Gardens for the holidays is an enchanting experience that offers worlds made of ice, lights, and adventure. Part of the enchantment is due to the collection of pandas, jellyfishes, and cherry blossom tree lanterns that we have along Hope Boulevard.
These lanterns are just some of the many that we have in honor of the Chinese Lantern Festival. The connection between the Chinese Lantern Festival and Moody Gardens is rooted in our ice carvers that come to us all the way from Harbin, China. Our skilled and talented ice carvers came to America sharing their cultural with staff and guests alike and we thought it was only fitting to represent them on their property.
The Lantern Festival has been part of Chinese New Year celebrations since the Han Dynasty of The Chinese Empire (206 BC- 221 AD). The Chinese Lantern Festival is usually held on the 15th day of the first month of the lunar calendar and marks the end of New Year festivities. The people of the Han Dynasty believed that fire contained mystical properties that would ward off evil and prevent natural disasters as well as bring blessings such as a bountiful harvest to the people.
Over the past centuries the lantern festival has evolved and now features lanterns in all shapes and sizes. These modern lanterns come in elaborate sets of vibrant color, dazzling lights and eye-catching design like the ones found on our property.
When you come to Festival of Lights be sure to check out this unique cultural aspect that also makes for the perfect backdrop for photos with our playful pandas in a bamboo forest!
The Festival of Lights is a mile-long trail of more than 1 million lights. It runs daily until Jan. 10.
Admission to the Festival of Lights is $10.95, including ice skating admission. Guests can bring their own skates or skate rental is available for $7 with the purchase of a Festival of Lights ticket.
A frosty new addition to the Festival of Lights this year is ICE LAND: Ice Sculptures with SpongeBob SquarePants. Being the only holiday ice exhibition on the Gulf Coast, this vast and magnificent display of 900 tons of ice creations has transformed Moody Gardens into the largest holiday destination in the Southwest. Chilled and held at a temperature of 9 degrees, guests can witness these works of art through January 4. Admission to the exhibition is $26.95 for adults and $21.95 for seniors and children.