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NEW YORK—Just in time for Memorial Day, the New York Aquarium will partially reopen on Saturday, May 25.
Just a few hundred feet from the Atlantic Ocean on Coney Island, the aquarium has been closed since October 29, 2012, when Hurricane Sandy slammed into the New York City coast. The facility sustained heavy damage, but was able to save many of the animals, including Mitik, a rescued walrus calf who had arrived just weeks before.
“The partial reopening of the WCS New York Aquarium in Coney Island will help one of our city’s hardest-hit areas continue its recovery from Hurricane Sandy,” Cristian Samper, President and CEO of the Wildlife Conservation Society said in a statement. “The aquarium serves as a critical economic driver in Brooklyn and inspires thousands of school-age children across New York City to better appreciate our oceans around the world.”
A fully remodeled Aquatheater will feature a new sea lion demonstration along with Aquarium favorites such as Glover’s Reef, outdoor exhibits of Sea Cliffs, and exhibits in Conservation Hall.
“As our community continues to rebuild, the reopening of this New York institution marks a welcome and important development in Coney Island’s comeback,” said City Council Member Domenic M. Recchia, Jr. “Families from all over the city will benefit from the return of our beloved aquarium, as will the local economy.”
In August 2012 Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced a new shark exhibit would open at the Aquarium, following a generous $7.5 million donation from Barbara Hrbek Zucker, a Wildlife Conservation Society trustee, and her husband Don.
“The comprehensive expansion and renovation of the New York Aquarium has been a key element in revitalizing Coney Island,” Mayor Michael Bloomberg said in August 2012.
Now, plans call for raising the new shark building several feet higher to meet new flood zone predictions, moving air intake vents from the flood doors to the roof, moving electrical panels out of basements and installing full-height storm doors on some glass doors that were only partly protected.
It’s an unexpected chance, aquarium Director Jon Forrest Dohlin said, to improve both the aquarium’s exhibits and endurance at once.
“Not to let any crisis go to waste,” Dohlin said. “That’s the real opportunity here.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.