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Moody Gardens Welcomes 2 New Harbor Seals

Galveston TX Moody Gardens seals

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Welcome to Moddy Gardens Tomato And Ravioli!

After traveling 2,324 miles from Crescent City, California to Galveston Island, Tomato and Ravioli have found their forever home at the Moody Gardens Aquarium Pyramid.

It’s been a long journey for the two harbor seal pups, both just shy of being 1 year old. Each was rescued separately last year by the Northcoast Marine Mammal Center in Crescent City and cared for, but due to health problems, both pups are non-releasable to the wild.

That’s where Moody Gardens stepped in.

“We had been looking to add seals to our North Pacific Exhibit and had been on the waiting list for a few years when we got the call about Tomato and Ravioli,” said Diane Olsen, assistant curator of seals and penguins at the Moody Gardens Aquarium Pyramid. “It seemed like a perfect fit. The addition of Tomato and Ravioli furthers Moody Gardens’ commitment to assisting animals in the wild that are not able to be released back.”

Rescued at just 32 pounds, Tomato has grown to a whopping 110 pounds and is 50 inches long. 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 was a pre-mature pup just a few days old when she was picked up by some well-meaning tourists last March. She was found on the beach and thought to be abandoned by her mother. 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.

Tomato and Ravioli Grows Up

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.

“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.”

See Tomato and Ravioli Live at Moody Gardens

Guests can see Tomato and Ravioli in their new habitat at the Aquarium Pyramid but also on the live seal cam at moodygardens.org/sealwebcam which is available 24 hours a day seven days a week.

For more information please visit moodygardens.org or call (409)744-4673.

Moody Gardens® is a public, non-profit, educational destination utilizing nature in the advancement of rehabilitation, conservation, recreation, and research.

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