Moody Gardens has been in the news lately, with the opening of their newly-renovated Aquarium Pyramid. Now, the famous Galveston family experience is back in the news with the announcement of four new furry (and pokey) friends.
On August 17, 2017, I was introduced to the new baby Prehensile-Tailed Porcupine and a baby Blue Duiker; both were born in late-July. The Blue Duiker’s birth is the first that Moody Gardens has been a part of, and the first birth for the mother, Basi.
Weighing anywhere from 7-20 pounds, the Blue Duiker is one of the smallest breeds of antelope. They are native to central, eastern and southern Africa. These little animals are listed as “least concern” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), which determines whether or not a species is close to endangerment.
“This is also our first breeding here at Moody Gardens and we are happy to welcome the new baby,” said Paula Kolvig, Moody Gardens assistant curator of the Rainforest Pyramid, who also commented on the affiliation with the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). “As an AZA accredited organization, we work closely with other zoos and aquariums on several conservation and breeding programs, and this birth is an example of that. Mom and baby are doing well, and our guests can view the baby on exhibit in the Rainforest.”
I was lucky enough to be at Moody Gardens when they officially named the new female Blue Duiker. She was named after her white hooves that stand out against her brown fur, which kind of look like socks. They named her Soksi: Swahili for socks.
Shortly after Soksi was born, Moody Gardens welcomed a Prehensile-Tailed Porcupine baby, born to mom Cora, 4, and dad Bono, 10. The gender of the new porcupine is still unknown, but once its quills come in, biologists can send one off to determine the gender through DNA testing. Baby porcupines are born with soft hairs that will harden with age and become the sharp quills they are notorious for.
“These nocturnal porcupines spend the majority of their time in the trees,” Kolvig said. “As the common name suggests, their tails are prehensile and are used for grasping, stability, climbing and hanging.”
Additionally, Moody Gardens added two new Giant River Otters, Manuel and Maximo, to be companions to the females, Dru and Ella.
Brothers Maximo and Manuel, both 2 years old, came from the Los Angeles Zoo, where they were born. Over 6 feet-long, Giant River Otters are the world’s largest otter. They are also extremely intelligent. When I asked how intelligent they really are, I was told Dru and Ella, who have been at Moody Gardens since 2010, know 50 different commands.
“We are excited to welcome Maximo and Manuel. Giant River Otters are very social animals,” Kolvig said. “The boys will be companions for Dru and Ella. This is the first time that they’ve had male companions and our plan is to have some combination of all four on exhibit for our guests to see and learn more about.”
All of the new amazing animals are on exhibit for guests to enjoy. Visit the 10-story Rainforest Pyramid to see these animals first hand and learn more about them.