Penguins meet and greet you at Galveston's largest aquarium

GALVESTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Have you ever seen a scuba diver up close and personal? How about a stingray?

At the Aquarium at Moody Gardens, you can experience it with hands-on exhibits, unique marine life and educational tours.

MORE HTX+: You can meet with otters inside Moody Gardens

"We've lived in the area about nine years, and it's a favorite to come here and just look around and very leisurely see all the fish and all the conservation efforts that the aquarium does," mother Tracy Dennis said.

The Aquarium has a lot to boast about these days. It's celebrating its 20th anniversary and just took part in another World Oceans Day.

"We're right here in the Houston area and have one of the most diverse aquariums in the country," Marketing Director Jerry Hamachek said.

If you pay close attention, you'll see there's a lot of hard work going on behind-the-scenes. The coral rescue lab is protecting, conserving and preserving nearly a dozen reef species from Florida - which is experiencing a reef disease outbreak.

"We jumped onboard very quickly. We created this lab within about three weeks time. All new equipment, which is one of the reasons that they were able to get us onboard as a coral holding facility very quickly," Greg Whittaker, animal husbandry manager, explained.

You can't talk the Aquarium at Moody Gardens without talking penguins. We got a chance to meet 16 year-old Hendrix, a Northern Rockhopper who helps meet and greet guests.

It's part of the encounter experience you can buy tickets for. According to aquarium officials, the penguins "are a big hit."

Moody Gardens is a non-profit, so a lot of the proceeds go to conservation efforts. To find out how you can contribute, or schedule your next visit, go to the Moody Gardens website.

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