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HOUSTON (CW39) – The great pyramids of Galveston Island… The iconic structural design of Moody Gardens isn’t just because it looks cool! This pyramid shape serves an important purpose when it comes to our weather.

“Hurricane winds are going to funnel right up the pyramid, that way we won’t have too much damage from strong wind”, says Bridgett San Marco, a Rainforest Biologist at Moody Gardens.

The buildings are elevated much higher than sea level and marine doors are placed in the lower levels to prevent any water intrusion to the exhibits.  

“Everything is prepared for the weather we see here in Galveston Island”, San Marco.

Lots of work goes into recreating climates that resemble what each animal is naturally used to.  

“I usually start my day by getting in the pool and scrubbing algae, vacuuming up sand, or any debris that may have gotten into the water”, she adds.

The staff also must test the quality of the water on a regular basis. A chlorine level of 0.5 parts per million is exactly where they like it! 

“These are giant river otters. They are one of 13 different species of otters. Giant otters can be found in South America, and inland freshwater waterways. Think of the Amazon River and other tributaries off of that”, San Marco.

They are used to the warmer temperatures and lots of rain which matches up nicely with Texas weather. Keeping up other environments that do not match up, require a little more work.  

“We make sure it is super cold in that exhibit. If you ever come in and see the staff feeding, they are in in big jumpers, they have winters jackets on, it’s cold for us, but the penguins love it.”, San Marco.

Meanwhile, the otters keep their water anywhere between 78 and 82 degrees, and do not worry, no one is being forgotten about during a storm!

“We have a team of staff that stays here sand rides out the storm, I’m on that team along with other dedicated biologists. We leave our homes aside and have other people take care of them. We are here to be sure that everyone is cared for to the same standard as any other day.”, San Marco adds.

Staff normally leaves a door open ad allows for the animals to either go out on stay indoors based on their own preference, and how bad the weather is.  

“We nickname it their otter bedrooms. They have their own big swimming pool, their den boxes, where they sleep at night.”, San Marco laughs.

In the worst of the storm however, faculty will take charge and call them in! And if there’s fish there… I am sure they won’t mind. These otters eat 10-15% of body weight in fish every day!