Galveston aquarium survives Hurricane Rita
Rhett A. Butler, mongabay.com
September 26, 2005
The aquarium and other animal facilities at Moody Gardens in Galveston, Texas along with the Houston aquarium appear to have weathered Hurricane Rita according to press reports.
In Galveston, most of the animals were evacuated from the facilities well prior to the storm’s arrival. According to the Galveston County The Daily News, the Moody Gardens penguins and seals were loaded onto air-conditioned trucks last Tuesday and stayed at Sea World in San Antonio. In addition to the penguins and seals, hundreds of other animals were evacuated from zoos and other facilities in the Texas Gulf Coast area, including the Downtown Aquarium in Houston, which features some 500,000-gallons of underwater exhibits. During the hurricane the only animals remaining in aquarium facilities were fish were left at the Moody Gardens aquarium and the Houston aquarium. At Moody Gardens, an emergency staff of about 20 members prepared the facility for the storm.
Moody Gardens will reopen on Wednesday, September 28, according to the Moody Gardens Website.
Hurricane Rita made landfall Saturday morning at 3:30 a.m. EDT as a Category 3 storm on the Texas-Louisiana line, bringing top winds of 120 mph. The storm quickly weakened and by late morning it was barely above hurricane status, with its sustained winds at 75 mph.
About 3 million people had fled a 500-mile stretch of the Texas-Louisiana coast ahead of the storm, motivated in part by the destruction that Hurricane Katrina inflicted on New Orleans and other parts of the Gulf Coast just three weeks ago.
Hurricane Katrina did not cause much physical damage to the New Orleans zoo or aquarium, but the loss of power that followed the storm killed virtually all the aquarium’s fish. Surviving animals — penguins, sea otters, and a few fish — were transported to other aquariums.
The New Orleans Zoo, located on high elevation ground, was well prepared for the storm and lost only a pair of river otters at the zoo and a whooping crane at the Audubon Center for Research of Endangered Species.
In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, six animals were sent from the Audubon Zoo of New Orleans to Moody Gardens. These included a 300-pound sea turtle named King Midas and five sea lions.
New Orleans Aquarium and Zoo to be Closed for a Year: Despite escaping Hurricane Katrina with little physical damage, the Aquarium of the Americas in New Orleans has suffered significant loss of life among its animals.
New Orleans Aquarium animals shipped to Monterey Bay Aquarium: Two sea otters and 19 penguins from the New Orleans Aquarium have been sent to Monterey Bay Aquarium. The aquarium will start providing updates on the animals once they have been stabilized. There are currently no plans to place them on exhibit at Monterey Bay.
Penguins and sea otters rescued from hurricane settling in at Monterey Bay Aquarium: The 19 penguins and two sea otters rescued from the New Orleans Aquarium of the Americas are currently behind the scenes during their quarantine period. The penguins are being housed in a former dive locker, now called the “Penguin Hospitality Suite.” We hope to put some or all of them on exhibit in the near future with our penguin colony in “Splash Zone.” It will be a family reunion of sorts, as several of the birds in the two colonies are related.
Final 4 missing Gulfport dolphins rescued following hurricane: The NOAA Fisheries Service and the Marine Life Aquarium of Gulfport, Miss., working with a number of other partners, rescued the last four of the eight trained bottlenose dolphins that were swept out of an aquarium tank torn apart by the storm surge of Hurricane Katrina on August 29. Normally held in captivity, the dolphins don’t have the necessary skills to survive on their own. They have survived various injuries and predators and have stayed together since the storm.