Posted September 2018
The Milwaukee County Zoo welcomed seven moon jellies to the Aquatic and Reptile Center in early July! These beautiful animals have proven to be a big draw for Zoo visitors.
Moon jellies live in shallow bays along the coast of California, U.S. East Coast, Europe, Japan and the Gulf of Mexico. They are the most abundant species of jellyfish in the wild. Their population continues to rise due to an overabundance of prey and a lack of predators, overfishing and garbage dumped in the ocean. As the moon jelly population continues to rise, we are constantly reminded that the ocean’s ecosystem is extremely unbalanced.
To eat, moon jellies sting their prey and entangle it within the mucus on their tops, before moving the food to their stomachs. In the wild, moon jellies feast on small plankton, crustaceans, fish eggs and other small jellies. The Zoo’s jellies receive a balanced diet of enriched baby brine shrimp, which shortly after feeding gives them an orange hue!
Moon jellies are peculiar and interesting creatures with a more complex nervous system than most people realize. “They’re not just mindless animals floating in the currents,” said Jeff Johnson, the moon jellies’ primary keeper. These jellies live an average of one year, but, before reaching adulthood they can spend up to 25 years as polyps along the ocean’s floor. Environmental factors determine when moon jellies transform from polyps to full-grown jellyfish.
Float on in to the Aquatic and Reptile Center to see the Zoo’s newest residents, the moon jellies! To experience the moon jellies take on the orange hue, thanks to the baby brine shrimp, visit after their morning feeding around 10:30 a.m.!