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Welcome back! Sandy-damaged New York Aquarium reopens 

May 28, 2013 at 12:55 PM ET


Image: Senior trainer Guenter Skammel gets a hug from sea lion Duke during a press preview before the re-opening of the Wildlife Cons...
Mario Tama / Getty Images
Senior trainer Guenter Skammel gets a hug from a sea lion named Duke.

After seven months of recovery from major damage caused by Superstorm Sandy, the New York Aquarium partially reopened Saturday for the first time.

Image: Visitors snap photos of the partially reopened New York Aquarium.
Cristian Samper / WCS
Visitors snap photos at the partially reopened New York Aquarium.

“The beaches were cold but the warm welcome at the WCS New York Aquarium brought in the crowds,” Jon Forrest Dohlin, Wildlife Conservation Society vice president and director of the New York Aquarium, said in a statement. “We are excited to be back open for Coney Island, Brooklyn and conservation.”

Image: Sea lion Osborne looks toward the crowd during a press preview before the re-opening of the Wildlife Conservation Society New ...
Mario Tama / Getty Images
Sea lion Osborne looks toward the crowd during a press preview on May 24.

The aquarium suffered extensive damage from surge waters during the hurricane, which completely or partially flooded all buildings at the 14-acre park. The reopening includes exhibits in the conservation hall, outdoor exhibits of Sea Cliffs, Glover’s Reef and a remodeled aquatheater.

Image: A sea lion performs on the first day of the re-opening to the public of the Wildlife Conservation Society New York Aquarium in ...
Spencer Platt / Getty Images
A sea lion performs on the first day of the re-opening to the public of the Wildlife Conservation Society New York Aquarium in Coney Island on May 25.

At a press preview of the outdoor aquatheater Friday, trainers and sea lions were happy to be back in action for the first time since Sandy. Behind the theater, penguins peeked out and wandered around their cliff exhibit.

New Yorkers and tourists started to form a line outside the aquarium 30 minutes before the 10 a.m. opening on Saturday, with visitors continuing to stream in throughout the day and over the Memorial Day weekend.

Image: Vittorio Campanile, age 3, looks at exhibits at the New York Aquarium, in the Coney Island section of the Brooklyn borough of New York,  Friday, May 2...
Richard Drew / AP
Vittorio Campanile, 3, looks at an exhibit at the New York Aquarium.

Over the next three years the aquarium will be rebuilding and enhancing their exhibits, with plans to open a new exhibit called “Ocean Wonders: Sharks!” in spring 2016. Education programs will resume on a limited basis as the aquarium hopes to continue being an education center for schoolchildren throughout the year.

The reopening also will provide a welcome boost for the surrounding damaged community; the aquarium usually generates more than $58 million for the local economy each year.

Image: Jon Forrest Dohlin at the New York Aquarium
Julie Larsen Maher / WCS
Jon Forrest Dohlin, director of the Wildlife Conservation Society, which runs the New York Aquarium, surveys the sea lion exhibit after Hurricane Sandy left it flooded.

“We still have a long road ahead of us, but opening our doors will help further the continuing recovery of the community,” Dohlin said. “Everyone who visits us will support the rebuilding of the aquarium and the rest of Coney Island just by visiting and enjoying our exhibits.”

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