Penguin Encounter

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For my oldest daughter’s 16th birthday, we took a belated trip to Moody Gardens in Galveston, Texas for a Seal and Penguin Encounter (mostly penguins).  She is a major penguin fan.  We weren’t sure how interactive it would be, but it turned out to exceed our expectations. 

We got to spend plenty of time interacting with the penguins – feeding them, blowing bubbles for them to play with, etc.  Some were friendlier than others.  They were quite the individuals and had lots of personality.  They were more talkative and less smelly than I expected.

We got to help prepare their food, which including shoving vitamins into the gills of the fish.

The Penguin Art was a big hit.  The penguins are placed on a sponge soaked in non-toxic paint, then they hop or waddle over a few canvases.  Then they switch colors and repeat.   It is a good fundraiser for them and everyone has fun watching it. 

We got to do a one-on-one painting session.  Our penguin was named Hendrix, after Jimi Hendrix.  He is a rock-hopper penguin who truly acts like a rock star. 

One penguin named Bumble Bee tried to crawl up in my lap and did manage to crawl up in my daughter’s lap (see pictures).  He likes humans more than other penguins.  Another one named Brooks took a liking to me and kept coming over to stand right by me.

Penguins are very solid.  Petting them felt like I thought it would – smooth, put not like plastic. 

We got behind-the-scenes tours of the seal / sea lion exhibit (though they aren’t interactive like the penguins) and some other areas like shark-feeding and the Rain Forest exhibit as well.  Our tour guide was a terrific young lady who loved her job and did it well.  You may see her on the Discovery Channel one day.

I’m not sure of the exact properties of Heaven, but I’m pretty sure that we’ll get to experience animals even more in-depth than we did in this adventure. 

We can’t wait to go back again!

20 thoughts on “Penguin Encounter”

  1. Wow, that looks like a blast! One of the guys at church is a marine biologist the The Mirage, and several people have done behind the scenes with him at the dolphin exhibit. i think penguins are more my speed- much smaller than dolphins.


  2. That looks like a blast, my husband would love it! He loves that stuff, too bad tx is a little far. We did a dolphin one in the bahamas on our 1 year anniv. I was so nervous because I was 12 weeks pregnant and afraid the dolphins would know and treat me different, but it turned out fun 🙂 You and your daughter seem to have a really sweet relationship. She is a beautiful girl. I think i had a little more of a rebellious attitude at that age and she doesn’t have any of that in her face! Tell me your secret!


  3. Thanks, MZ, she really is a wonderful daughter and not rebellious at all. She’s no wallflower, though – she is adventurous and creative and leads in all sorts of ways. Her sister is similar.

    I’m not sure of the secret . . . probably marrying well is the main thing! I always say that God didn’t think much of my parenting skills so He gave me easy kids. I’m really trying to soak up the few couple years with them in the house.
    They have their ups and downs as teens, of course, but I really enjoy being around them.

    Pink Elephant – ha – I can’t believe I went the whole day without thinking of the Penguin character!


  4. Wow, that looks so fun! What time of year was it? You were wearing heavy jackets — maybe it’s just cold where they keep then penguins? At the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, there are penguins walking around in the warm weather. Of course, they have water nearby that they can get in.

    The teenage years were my favorite with Tieki Rae. Some parents dread them, but we just had a ball!


  5. Hi Tammi – it was just the other day that we went. They keep it around 36 degrees in the penguin area, so they provide boots, pants and a jacket to keep you warm. The water is 54 degrees. It is fun to watch the penguins swim underwater, but you can’t get good pictures.

    Yes, the teen years haven’t been as advertised – we’ve really enjoyed them! I can tell that Tieki Rae must have been a delight – I love reading her blog (it restores my faith in college youth!).


  6. What fun!

    There’s something so likeable about penguins, it must have been such a treat to really get to interact with them.

    Pink Elephant–Oh my goodness, I’d forgotten that laugh! I loved that show as a kid and Burgess was one of the best villains.


  7. This looks like a fantastic experience. It seems the two of you really enjoyed it by the facial expressions. How unusual to be able to participate in such an intimate encounter with the animals. Great beginning to summer break!


  8. Aaaaaah, I’m so jealous! I get the feeling from your post that the penguins enjoy it as much as the people do–animals are such hams sometimes! Here I go on my animal lovefest again, but I always think of C.S. Lewis’s writings on animals–one thing he pointed out was that even though this is a fallen world and nothing (nature, animals, people, whatever) works the way it is meant to, you can still see how powerful our role as steward of the animals is. Specifically, Lewis pointed out that human-animal relationships can be almost miraculous in their intensity and harmony, with the animal somehow becoming “more”
    than it was through its relationship with loving people. Soooo cool!!!!

    P.S. Your daughter is like, a supermodel or something. Be careful putting pics of her on the Internet!! lol


  9. Hi L&L – agreed – you’d love these guys! Which writings of Lewis covered the animals? It really is interesting how much God values animals – below humans, to be sure, but still a masterful creation and of great value.

    “a supermodel or something.”

    Let’s just say she gets it from her mom!


  10. You have NO idea how jealous I am of you! If I was your daughter, you’d be hearing thank you from me proabably about every five minutes for the next year or so. haha. Was this an attraction that they let anyone do at Moody Gardens? Or did you have to pay more or ask to do it on your own? And sorry to be a bother, but how much did it cost? haha, I apologize. But I’m a HUGE penguin fan myself and I think I know exactly what I’ll be wanting for my next birthday!


  11. Hi Diamond – you can get Moody Gardens contact information at We sort of stumbled on it. They didn’t have this listed on their website, but when we asked about other Penguin programs they mentioned it.

    You must be 16 or older to participate. They only take very small groups – usually 2-3 people. Cost = $175 / person, which includes a nice lunch and a piece of Penguin art.


  12. Wow! $175? The penguin program at Newport is only $15 a person. We probably won’t get to do as much (no lunch that’s for sure) and they’re African penguins instead Kings,


  13. Greetings and Happy Holidays! It’s T’Noya, I did your penguin seal experience. My boss actually fowarded this blog to our staff today! Thank you so much again for being such a great group and the pictures are amazing! How is your daughter? Please say hello from all of us at Moody Gardens!

    Take care!


  14. Hi T’Noya,

    Great to hear from you! Yes, we remember you. That was such a fantastic day, and you are so good at your job.

    My daughter is doing well. She will graduate this year and is will be going to college and dancing professionally (somewhere!).

    I’m glad you’re still at Moody Gardens and hope you are doing well post-Ike. We thought about you all often.

    People absolutely love your penguin concept. Maybe we’ll be back later this year when my youngest turns 16!


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