Giving Thanks at Moody Gardens with Newly Adopted and Native Hatched Baby Penguins

National Adoption Month Fills Penguin Nursery with Bonus Macaronis for First Successful Breeding

Moody Gardens is offering a very warm welcome for several healthy Macaroni penguin chicks.


This includes the hatching of the six eggs recently brought from Sea World San Diego and the very significant bonus of two others being the first successful hatching of the Macaroni penguin species from pairs already calling the South Atlantic exhibit home. 

The six eggs from Sea World San Diego made quite a journey traveling on a commercial flight following a streamlined process initiated by their keepers in California. Once arriving at Moody Gardens they were placed in an incubator and cared for by staff until it was time for them to make their debut. These eggs seemingly couldn’t wait to join the Moody Gardens family as their anticipated hatch dates were set for Nov. 25-28 but the hatching started on Nov. 22 and continued through the weekend, appropriately timed for National Adoption Day on Nov. 23.

“We are extremely grateful and excited for these new chicks to join the exhibit here at Moody Gardens,” said Assistant Curator Diane Olsen. “They received excellent care from the staff at Sea World San Diego and we are ready to continue that care as these chicks continue to grow and mature.”


The first native chick hatched on Nov. 17. The proud penguin parents are Bleu, a male who came to Moody Gardens who came to Moody Gardens from the Biodome in Montreal, Canada in 2007, and Gorgonzola, a female hatched at Sea World San Diego who arrived at Moody Gardens in 2017.

A few days later on Nov. 21, a second native chick joined the Moody Gardens family. Its parents are Munster, a male also from the Biodome who came to Moody Gardens in 2007 and Gouda, a female from Newport Aquarium who moved into the South Atlantic Penguin exhibit in 2015. Since these new birds are the first in a second generation of Macaroni penguins at Moody Gardens their keepers have decided to name them after pastas to go along with the theme of the adults which are all named after different types of cheese.


Each successful hatch adds to the Moody Gardens mission of education and conservation. Assistant Curator Diane Olsen notes that the fact that we have birds that came to us and hatched from another facility as well as birds that are native to Moody Gardens provides a great opportunity for the population overall. “Increasing the number of birds in our collection allows us to have greater diversity for breeding pairs in the future and also allows us to be able to send birds to other facilities to diversify their populations, just like Sea World San Diego did with us,” she said.

Olsen also explained that having Macaroni penguins on exhibit allows Moody Gardens to educate the public about the issues these birds are facing the wild. “Macaroni penguins, which are native to the Sub Antarctic region of the world, are listed as vulnerable and colonies are decreasing in the wild due to factors such as climate change or overfishing. We need to be able to share ways that these populations can be helped and having these birds in our collection allows us to do that,” she said. 


The Moody Gardens Aquarium Pyramid is one of the largest and most diverse aquariums in the United States. In addition to the Macaroni penguins, five other species including Gentoo, Chinstrap, King, and Rockhopper penguins also call the South Atlantic Exhibit home. The warm-climate Humboldt penguins live in an exhibit right next door to their chilly-aired friends. With over one million gallons of water, the building houses marine life from five distinct environments and the collection includes not only penguins but sting rays, sharks, seals and sea lions as well as several different species of fish.


For more information call 409-744-4673 or visit  

Photos courtesy of Moody Gardens