I recently went to Galveston, Texas and Moody Gardens® is always on our agenda. Moody Gardens® is involved in a lot of different animal and nature conservation programs. They do research for one thing. They work with experts and scientists and universities to invent or find new ways to care for wildlife health and to help the environment.
I talked a little with Sandy Richbook who is the Coordinator of Outreach programs at Moody Gardens®. So she can come to your school and talk about both animals and plants that Moody Gardens® is trying to save or protect. She was real nice and answered a lot of questions for me. Here is what she had to say about a couple things:
J: What is the number one animal you are caring for right now?
S: The giant river otter. This animal comes from South America. Did you know that Moody Gardens® is the sixth facility in North America to have the giant river otter?
FACTS: The giant river otter is an endangered animal that lives in rainforests, like the Amazon. It mostly eats stuff like fish, little crabs and snakes that are found by the water. They live in family groups.
J: What can a person who does not live in Galveston do to help Moody Gardens® in their conservation programs?
S: You can always plant a tree. Planting trees can be a home for lots of animals and plants. Animals and plants are losing their homes in rainforests because of deforestization. Even cutting down one tree in the rainforest can destroy the home of a lot of different animals.
Moody Gardens® a member of the American Zoo and Aquarium Association (www.aza.org). They work with other AZA partners to ensure the long-term survival of captive wildlife populations. One of the primary tools used is species survival. This is a cooperative effort made by zoos and aquariums around the country to maintain genetically healthy captive populations of endangered species.
Currently, Moody Gardens® is involved in something they call the Species Survival Program (SSP). This is to help many species of wildlife including the Pink Pigeon, Ocelot, Cotton-Top Tamarin, Pygmy Slow Loris and Tomato Frog.

Moody Gardens® also has a Backyard Habitat, a very cool aquarium exhibit that is called Ocean Depth. They also have their own rainforest which really slams because birds fly free in it and you see lots of animals crawling and climbing free in the exhibit – like the lizard, bat and Tamarin that are pictured.

All Photos by Joe Kirkham

Moody Garden® has its own Adopt-An-Animal program, too so you can help conservation by adopting and taking care of one of these animals. Moody Gardens® is also involved in helping other SSPs besides the giant river otter like the Pink Pigeon, Ocelot, Cotton-Top Tamarin, Pygmy Slow Loris and Tomato Frog.
• Moody Gardens, Galveston, Texas, “Conservation.” From http://www.moodygardens.com/conservation accessed 9/11/11.
• Direct contact with Moody Gardens conservation program with Sandy Richbook, dtd 9/16/99.
• National Geographic. From http://animals.nationalgeographic.com/animals/printable/giant-river-otter.html accessed 9/16/11.
• All About Bats. From http://www.yearofthebat.org/all-about-bats accessed 9/16/11.