Guests at Moody Gardens, Galveston, Texas, will be able to get close to Humboldt penguins this summer. The birds will feature as part of a new look Aquarium Pyramid opening on May 27.
The warm-climate penguins – a threatened species – hail from Southern Hemisphere waters from the Antarctic Pole to the Equator. Their arrival at Moody Gardens is part of a multi-phase $37 million renovation project.
A total of 10 Humboldts came from the Oregon Zoo and Woodland Park Zoo in Washington state. This will be the second penguin exhibit at Moody Gardens. Close by is the South Atlantic Penguin Habitat, home to the King, Gentoo, Chinstrap, Rockhopper and Macaroni penguins.
“Most people assume that all penguins live in the cold and on the ice,” says Moody Gardens assistant curator of seals and penguins, Diane Olsen. “That’s not the case. The Humboldts are a warmer species and can tolerate heat. Their habitat is more like a desert. Guests will notice that it looks very different from the South Atlantic Penguin Exhibit.”
Visitors to Moody Gardens will see the Humboldts both above water and underwater in a lower viewing area. The penguins are recognisable by the black band of feathers across their chest and pink patches on face and feet. That pink isn’t from their feathers, but bare skin patches that help keep them cool in warmer climates. The penguins can swim at speeds of up to 30 mph (48km/h).
“We wanted to add another penguin species with this renovation, specifically a warm-climate penguin, so that we could take the birds outside of their habitat to interact with guests,” adds Olsen. “We can do keeper chats so that guests can learn more about the birds and get an up close view.”
Opening just in time for Memorial Day weekend, the new kook Aquarium Pyramid promises multiple new and renovated experiences. These include a new Gulf of Mexico Oil Rig exhibit, Mangrove exhibit, Caribbean exhibit Touch Tank area and the new Flower Garden Banks exhibit.