The Medical Plant Program
This five-year cooperative program was initiated by Dr. E. Arthur Bell, former curator of KEW Gardens in London, Moody Gardens® and the University of Houston School of Pharmacology. Our Horticultural Department has collected and grown vegetation from rainforests that may be helpful to control disease, particularly cancer and AIDS, and sent cuttings to the University of Houston for data research to study their healing properties.
The Beneficial Insect Program
In an amazing team venture with Sam Houston State University, the Rainforest Pyramid® is able to exist without the use of pesticides. This program is a massive effort to "match" insects and bacteria to perfectly balance nature. Since pesticides are only a temporary solution to insect control, it is hoped that this biological control program may some day extend to the environment at large.
Coral Propagation Program
Coral reefs rank second only to rainforests in the diversity of their inhabitants. Serving as the center of a complex food chain, the deterioration of this important natural resource has become a serious concern since so many other species rely on them for survival.
Our captive coral propagation program conserves coral specimens for use in public aquariums and ultimately reduces the need for wild collected specimens. Cooperative efforts between American Zoo and Aquarium Association facilities provide "living libraries" of coral species that can be transferred amongst many facilities to provide better coral reef displays to raise public awareness of global conservation issues.
Moody Gardens® entered into a coral research program at Johns Hopkins University in 2002. Fragments of Acropora, Montipora and Porites species of corals were sent for growth studies to determine Coral's historical importance in reef building. Research results may have significant direct applications in paleontology and biochemistry, as well as indirect benefits to ongoing medical research.
Saving Elkhorn Coral
A Moody Gardens® biologist along with 20 U.S. and European scientists recently traveled to Mayaguez, Puerto Rico to embark on one of the greatest coral conservation efforts ever undertaken to help save Elkhorn Coral (Acropora palmata). This is the first coral to be listed on the federal government’s Endangered Species Act and is an essential component for existing and future coral reefs. Without this species, a reef-builder, coral reefs and their inhabitants may be lost.
Coral reefs provide natural storm barriers for coastlines, are a potential source for novel pharmaceuticals, and support nearly 85% of the economies of their nearby communities through tourism. Through the captive coral sexual reproduction and husbandry techniques learned Moody Gardens® strives to contribute to this important cause.
Partnership with United States Fish and Wildlife
Serving as a repository for confiscated live specimens, Moody Gardens® assumes care responsibilities for animals until pending cases are complete and assures long-term care by assisting with shipments to other facilities.
Cooperative Ventures to Ensure Long-term Captive Survival of Animals Species
These include the Turtle Survival Alliance that works to reduce the take of turtles from the wild to supply the Asian Food Markets.
- Panamanian Golden Frog Propagation: A collaboration of AZA facilities is working to ensure the survival of these highly endangered frogs.
- Cuban Amazon Parrots are extremely endangered in the wild. Through concentrated efforts of the AZA Parrot Taxow Advisory Group, several facilities have taken on the responsibility of housing and breeding these parrots to ensure their long-term survival.
- The Wyoming Toad recovery project addresses the disappearance of these U.S. native amphibians. AZA facilities devote holding space to maintain and breed these frogs in captivity to augment wild populations.