Special Events

A Penguin Walked Into My Office Today and No This Isn't the Start of a Joke

Meet San Juan, the best ambassador ever for Moody Gardens.
Meet San Juan, the best ambassador ever for Moody Gardens. Photo by Margaret Downing

So what did you do today?

I had a penguin come to my office. A live one. A 3-year-old male penguin that jumped and waddled and enthralled everyone at the Houston Press who all came over to see him.

In a genius marketing move as part of a promotion of what they have available during Spring Break, the folks from Moody Gardens came over from Galveston Island to the mainland today, bringing with them San Juan. The young Humboldt penguin could make the trip because he's a subtropical kind of penguin from the Chile area who can tolerate temperatures up to 100 degrees.

Feathered, but unruffled, San Juan remained pretty calm, cool and collected. - PHOTO BY STUART FOLB
Feathered, but unruffled, San Juan remained pretty calm, cool and collected.
Photo by Stuart Folb
In the wild he'd probably live to age 15. Cared for at Moody Gardens and seen by vets there, we're told he can make it to 30. These penguins can't swim until they're one years old and their parents teach them how to do it. And they are actually covered in feathers (they're birds after all) which surprisingly enough are incredibly soft to the touch. But their bodies are actually too dense to fly.

And you can pet them — on their back is best — and stop them from moving forward by gently holding their chests. But stay away from the beaks; we're told they may misinterpret your hand as food and bite.

Back to the other events Moody Gardens has planned for spring break: there's several movies in 4D and 3D (Shark: A 4D Experience, Big 3D: Engineering Our World, America's Musical Journey). You can be there to welcome Tomato and Ravioli, the harbor seals who were rescued in California and now taken in by Moody Gardens to join its North Pacific exhibit. There's also two new King Penguin chicks.

Easter Sunday there will be several free egg hunts broken up by ages. And admission to Easter in the Gardens is free.

There's a lot more going on at the Aquarium Pyramid and Rainforest Pyramid as well. For information including ticket prices call 1-800-582-4673 or visit moodygardens.org.

Whenever you go, don't miss the penguins. And be sure to ask for San Juan.



click to enlarge OK how many chances do you have to get a photo up close and personal with a penguin? Call us starstruck. - PHOTO BY ASHLEY TOMPKINS
OK how many chances do you have to get a photo up close and personal with a penguin? Call us starstruck.
Photo by Ashley Tompkins

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Margaret Downing is the editor-in-chief who oversees the Houston Press newsroom and its online publication. She frequently writes on a wide range of subjects.
Contact: Margaret Downing