Rescued, rehabbed and ready to explore. Two harbor seals are Moody Garden’s newest residents and they are settling in their new spectacular home at the North Pacific Exhibit in the Aquarium Pyramid.
It’s been a long journey for the two pups, both just one year old. Each was rescued separately last year and cared for by the Northcoast Marine Mammal Center in Crescent City, California, but due to health problems are non-releasable to the wild. That’s where Moody Gardens stepped in. After traveling 2,324 miles from Crescent City to Galveston Island, Tomato and Ravioli have found their forever home at the Moody Gardens Aquarium Pyramid.
“We are very excited to have Tomato and Ravioli join our exhibit,” said Diane Olsen, assistant curator of seals and penguins at the Moody Gardens Aquarium Pyramid. “Their addition furthers Moody Gardens’ commitment to providing safe homes for animals that would be unable to survive in the wild.”
Tomato and Ravioli have remained in quarantine for about five months while their biologists worked closely with them to establish relationships, get them to a healthy weight, and train them on behaviors expected of them once they join the other animals on exhibit.
The seals have also been behind-the-scenes at Moody Gardens a little bit longer than is typical for new animals joining the Aquarium Pyramid due to the unique challenges faced by Tomato and Ravioli.
Tomato had severe injuries due to a suspected dog attack. All of his injuries healed well, but one left him blind in one eye. With weakened eyesight, he would not be able to forage for food well enough to sustain himself in the wild, which could lead to malnourishment.
Ravioli suffers from neurologic and balance problems due to a vestibular disorder. She had seizures and because of those problems would be unable to hunt successfully in the wild.
“Both animals needed to lose a little bit of weight when they arrived at Moody Gardens. It also took Ravioli a little bit longer to develop the muscles needed to get in and out of the water in the pool in the holding area behind the seal exhibit. We knew she would need a little bit more time before she went on exhibit,” said Olsen.
After their 30 day quarantine period, a ‘Howdy Gate’ was added behind the scenes to start the process of introducing the seals to the other animals already in the North Pacific Exhibit.
“The gate keeps the new pups separate from the four other animals, but allows all of the animals to see and smell one another,” Olsen explained. “Now that everyone is comfortable, Tomato and Ravioli will join Squirt, one of our California sea lions, on exhibit so that they can get familiar with their new home. Once that’s successful, staff will introduce the new seal pups to fellow harbor seals Siku and Porter, and California sea lion, Sam.”
“Tomato and Ravioli are both great additions to the North Pacific Exhibit,” Olsen said. “We are thrilled to be the forever home for these two special animals.”
Guests can see Tomato and Ravioli in their new habitat at the Aquarium Pyramid after July 10th
, but also on the live seal cam at www.moodygardens.org/sealwebcam
which is available 24 hours a day seven days a week.
For more information please visit www.moodygardens.org
or call 409-744-4673