Moody Gardens

Penguins Are a Perfect Present for Moody Gardens


Just in time for the holidays, four Gentoo Penguin chicks – the first of the 2013 breeding season – have hatched at Moody Gardens in Galveston, Texas. 

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Photo Credit:  Moody Gardens

The down-covered chicks, who weighed only a few ounces each at hatching, are growing quickly and will attain their adult size and weight in about eight weeks. 

In the wild, Gentoo Penguins breed on many sub-Antarctic islands, where they build large circular nests from stones.  

These chicks, along with six other Gentoo Penguins, will move to Hull, England in February for a new Penguin exhibit at The Deep.  

"In the spirit of international cooperation, we're pleased to be able to send the Penguins to The Deep," said Diane Olsen, assistant curator at Moody Gardens, who traveled to England to oversee the Penguin transfers.  "They have a brand new exhibit that has passed very stringent accreditation standards."  

This cooperative management is typical of zoos that are accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA).  AZA zoos, along with their European counterparts, share a goal of maintaining genetically healthy animal populations.

Now There's Three Little Penguin Chicks at Moody Gardens!

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Photo Credit: Moody Gardens

Another little Penguin chick has hatched at Moody Gardens, making him the third baby this season for parents Ren and Garfield. You may have read about the first two, who were born on Thanksgiving Day, a few weeks ago on Zooborns. 

This new baby Gentoo Penguin came into the family earlier this week, and currently weighs 221 grams. And he's growing fast. Here you can watch him along with sibling Quinn and Raye, a must-see video. 

Adult Gentoo Penguins have distinctive white patches above the eye area and white speckling in the adjacent black plumage around their heads. They also have yellow feet, making them unique in the Moody Gardens collection. These new additions made it the eighth straight year that Moody Gardens has successfully bred a Gentoo Penguin. 

First Penguins of the Season Hatch on Thanksgiving Day at Moody Gardens

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The staff of Moody Gardens in Texas had two new reasons to be thankful with the hatching of two Gentoo Penguin chicks during Thanksgiving weekend. Their parents, like all the Penguins in the collection, are identified by number-to-document statistics. Technically 404 and 415, the parents go by the names Stimpy and Porky. They've had chicks in the past but these two are the first of the season.

"We discovered the new chick at approximately 9:00 a.m. on Thanksgiving day,” said Moody Gardens biologist Hector Morale. “As we were changing light bulbs and cleaning inside the exhibit, the parents stood up and we found the chick tucked beneath them in the nest.” The next day, staff noticed the second egg.

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Photo Credit: Moody Gardens

The Penguins currently weigh in at 165 and 344 grams. Tests will be taken at a later date to determine their gender. Penguin chicks grow fast and will become full-grown in just eight weeks. The new chicks will be named in a Moody Gardens’ Facebook fan page contest launched yesterday. Click that link if you'd like to particiapte. In the mean time, you can watch the penguins on the Live Penguin Cam, if you aren't able to visit in person.

Read more about Penguins after the fols!

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Meet Riley the Seal Pup!


 On December 11, Moody Gardens welcomed a newborn harbor seal! Mom Presley and her pup have spent their short time together bonding through activities like nursing and exploring their exhibit.

“Nursing and sleeping are healthy behaviors for a pup. Right now Riley is curious about the environment and is quickly adapting to its surroundings,” said Animal Husbandry Manager Greg Whittaker. “Since there are just more than 100 harbor seals in captivity: this birth and Riley’s health is important to the entire species.”

Riley is not only an exciting birth for Moody Gardens, but also for parents Porter and Presley who first met in 2006. Porter, who was rescued near death off the coast of Maine after being abandoned by his mother, made his home at Moody Gardens in 2001. He had been bottle fed and nursed back to heath by workers at Marine Animal Lifeline, but after an infection destroyed his eye biologists decided Porter would not be able to survive in the wild. Five years later, Presley joined the Moody Gardens family after her caretakers at Memphis Zoo determined the young harbor seal needed a companion.

Although Presley and Porter have conceived in the past, this is the couple’s first successful birth and Porter have conceived in the past, this is the couple’s first successful birth.


Photo credits: Moody Gardens


Read more after the jump!

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Rare Pygmy Slow Loris Twins in Galveston, Texas


Moody Gardens guests get a special treat this summer: the chance to see two rare Pygmy Slow Loris offspring, born June 13, on exhibit in the Rainforests of the World Exhibit.

The addition of the second set of twins is a rare and valuable boost to the population of this primitive primate species called prosimians that are found in tropical forests of Laos, Vietnam, China and Cambodia. These arboreal (tree-living) primates were nearly extinct in Vietnam during the Vietnam War. Much of the forests where the loris lived were destroyed. After the Vietnam War, deforestation continued to be a threat. Due to numerous environmental dangers, the species is listed as “vulnerable” by United Nations Environment Programme World Conservation Monitoring Centre.


Photo credits: Moody Gardens

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First-ever Chinstrap Penguin Chick for Moody Gardens


Moody Gardens announced the birth of a new Chinstrap Penguin last week, making it the first Chinstrap chick ever born in the Moody Gardens Aquarium Pyramid. “We are one of only four institutions in the country to successfully hatch a Chinstrap Penguin,” said Diane Olsen, assistant curator at Moody Gardens. Olsen said the unnamed chick will only be on display until it learns to walk.  Because Chinstrap Penguins normally nest in beach areas with shallow water near the shore, it is important to keep the chick away from the deep, cold water of the exhibit.  While away from public view, the chick will be weaned from parents Hatcher and Carter, taught to swim and then reintroduced to its tuxedo-clad peers.


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Photo credits: Moody Gardens

Moody Gardens is one of five zoos and aquariums in the U.S. to feature the sub-Antarctic chinstrap penguins in captivity.  Olsen said the opportunity to see this chick is as rare and unique as the bird itself. “Our goal is to let people see these penguins to become more aware of and concerned for them so that when the issues of conservation and habitat destruction arise, visitors will be encouraged to take a stand for our animals and their environments,” she said.

Rare Pygmy Loris Twins Born at Moody Gardens

Moving slowly through the tree tops and weighing only a pound or less in adulthood, the pygmy slow loris lives up to its name. On March 22nd, Moody Gardens in Texas announced the rare birth of pygmy slow loris twins to mother Luyen and father Icarus. Moody Gardens tells us that “Luyen has been a very attentive and good mother to the twins. The babies stay attached to their mom for the majority of the day, taking plenty of opportunities to nurse.” In adulthood, these primitive primates, rely on their human-like hands and huge eyes to hunt tasty insects at night.

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Below: The bashful female at just 15 days old.

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Below: The curious male, also at 15 days old.

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Below: Video of the twins that belongs in the adorability record books. 

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Christmas Chicks

Another early Christmas present, this time for Moody Gardens in Galveston, Texas, with both King penguin and Gentoo penguin hatchings in the last week and a half. In the pictures below, a little Gentoo penguin chick takes a ride in a sleigh, via tupperware. Gentoos build their nests out of rocks, which are then jealousy guarded. Particularly nice rocks are offered as gifts by male Gentoos to females to curry favor.

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Photo shoot's over... time for Christmas dinner!
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