Tag: Rainforest (page 2 of 2)

Porcupine Baby Born at Moody Gardens

Porcupine Baby!

From brightly colored macaws to lounging lizards, more than 200 animal species have made a home in the Rainforest Pyramid at Moody Gardens. And as of yesterday, Moody Gardens has the second prehensile tailed porcupine born onsite since the Rainforest Pyramid’s grand re-opening.

The reddish orange baby was born on the same exact date as its older sibling last year. A quill was sent for DNA testing to determine the gender and after, a name will be chosen. Weighing at 480 grams, the newborn is on exhibit inside the nocturnal gallery of the Rainforest Pyramid.

Here is the mother, Bobby-Sue!

Although the newborn looks as soft as a puppy, the quills will harden within a few weeks. Sharing an exhibit with the mother, Bobby-Sue, the new baby is climbing the trees and exploring the area. Bobby-Sue and the father, Bono, have been together since 2007 and this is their second baby since their introduction into the newly enhanced pyramid.

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.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.

“Who ‘nose’ when the Corpse Flower will bloom?” Contest

UPDATE—WINNERS: Lucky 13…today has been declared official bloom date! Only guesses submitted by 2:00pm today June 13, 2012 will be taken in consideration. Email us at communications@moodygardens.com  if we reply to your comment with “WINNER” to claim your prize. Thank you all for your guesses!

Morticia, the Corpse Flower, looks like she’s ready for her bloom! But without a set blooming season, it’s hard to predict when the Corpse Flower will bloom. So who “nose” when the Corpse Flower will bloom and begin its silent and smelly flowering? The first 20 people to guess correctly will win a free ticket to the Rainforest Pyramid to see Morticia!

A Corpse Flower bloom occurs when the spadix, the long, French bread-like stem, emerges from the bud. At that point, the flower will grow four to six inches a day and the strong smell will start to roll in. The strong smell that is similar to rotting flesh attracts its pollinators, carrion beetles and sweat flies. It is considered the largest flowering plant in the world, often reaching heights of over 10 feet tall. Technically, it is the largest unbranched inflorescence, containing both male & female flowers.

The Corpse Flower grows from an underground tuber which can weigh up to 200 pounds. From this tuber, a large single leaf emerges resembling a small tree that can grow to more than 20 feet tall. During this vegetative state, the tuber gains its energy to produce the massive bloom.  The plant then goes into a dormant period for approximately three months. The tuber will then either produce another leaf or a flower as it has at Moody Gardens.

Once fully unfurled, the flower will only last for a day or two. Then the flower collapses upon itself and withers away. The tuber will then go into a dormant period, resting and gaining energy, eventually sending up another tree trunk-like stalk, beginning the incredible process all over again!

The Corpse Flower is under threat of extinction in the wild due to illegal logging and the clearing of rain forest land for cultivation of oil palm plantations. It is our hope that interest in and appreciation of our Earth’s amazing plants and animals will lead to increased efforts at conserving the habitats of these and other rare species.

CONTEST RULES:

Use the information we’ve provided above as well as Morticia’s growth progress, which we update frequently on our Facebook  & Twitter, to guess the exact date that she will bloom. Our horticultural exhibit manager, Donita Brannon, will declare the official bloom date. Here are the rules:

  • Leave your guess in the comments section of this post or tweet us your guess @Moody_Gardens with hashtag #MorticiaContest
  • Only one guess per person.
  • Contest open until flower starts to bloom
  • First 20 people to guess correctly will win two (2) tickets to the Rainforest Pyramid®
  • Only people who guess the EXACT date determined by our horticultural exhibit manager will win

While you’re at it, why not go ahead and like us on Facebook and/or follow us on Twitter.

This promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, Facebook, Inc. Any comments that are inappropriate, offensive, spam or commercial in nature can be deleted by the page admin. Must be 18 years or older to win.

Bat Facts: What’s with the hanging?

Q: WHY DO BATS HANG UPSIDE DOWN?

A: Unlike the bodies of other animals, a bat’s body is best adapted for hanging upside down. Its hind limbs have rotated 180 degrees so that its knees face backwards. This rotation aids in the bat’s ability to navigate in flight and to hang by its feet. Bats actually have specialized tendons that hold their toes in place so that they are able to cling to their roosts without expending any energy. In fact, bats must flex their muscles in order to let go of the roosting surface. These adaptations are quite helpful for a flying mammal since bats only need to let go of the roost in order to drop into flight. Hanging upside down also provides bats with roosting space away from predators in safe places on the ceilings of caves, in trees, and buildings that few other animals can use because they have not evolved to hang upside down by their feet.

Visit Bat Conservation International to learn more about bats!

Save the Date: Bats Are Doin’ It


Throughout 2012 Moody Gardens® will bring attention to an often overlooked, but important animal: the bat. The United Nations has declared 2012 as International Year of the Bat and Bat Conservation International (BCI) as an International Year of the Bat founding partner. Moody Gardens® will be participating throughout 2012 with opportunities for the public to get involved in the conservation mission. The International Year of the Bat campaign aims to raise global awareness about bats, bat conservation and the unique roles bats play in our environment.

The “Bat’s Are Doin’ It” fundraiser will bring attention to the ecological importance of bats such as eating their weight in harmful insects and pollinating many economically valuable crops including bananas and mangoes. Guests will leave with a new appreciation for this misunderstood animal species; which will assist BCI in their efforts to protect bats.

Enjoy a special evening celebrating the mysterious creatures with a tasty bat- themed food and drink menu. The night will include a cocktail party, special guest speaker James Eggers from Bat Conservation International and a tour of the Rainforest Pyramid®. This event will give you the chance to help save an often overlooked animal species while celebrating the special holiday.

SAVE THE DATE: Bats Are Doin’ It: A Fundraiser for Animal Lovers

When: February 11th from 7:00 p.m. – 10:00 p.m.

Where: Moody Gardens Visitors Center

Price: $50 for a single ticket, $90 for two
CLICK HERE TO BUY TICKETS

• Included in the price: Heavy hors’ doeuvres and 2 drink tickets for specialty bat- themed drinks. Each attendee also receives a free “Bats Are Doin’ It” goody bag.

• Other Information: Raffle tickets can be purchased upon arrival to the event. Prices are $5 for 1 ticket or $10 for 3 tickets.Prizes will include various fabulous bat themed packages.

CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD EVENT FLYER

Proceeds raised for the event will be donated to the organization Bat Conservation International. This event is open to individuals who are 21 and above only.

 

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.)

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