Coney Island, Brooklyn, February 26, 2013 — The Wildlife Conservation Society plans to partially reopen the hurricane-damaged New York Aquarium in late spring of this year.

The partial reopening will include Glover’s Reef; exhibits in Main Hall (Coral Triangle of Fiji, Great Lakes of East Africa, and the Flooded Forests of the Amazon); outdoor spaces of Sea Cliffs (walrus, sea lions, harbor seals, sea otters and penguins); and a fully re-modeled Aquatheater with a new sea lion demonstration.

In conjunction with the partial reopening of the aquarium, education programs will resume on a limited basis at the facility. This will include the teen docent program, summer camp for students, and training for educators. In addition, aquarium staff will continue to work closely with the WCS Global Marine Program on the WCS New York Seascape initiative to conduct conservation research from Cape May to Montauk.

“The New York Aquarium has been an important part of the economic, cultural, educational and scientific community of Brooklyn since 1957,” said Cristián Samper, President and CEO of the Wildlife Conservation Society. “We know all efforts to reopen the New York Aquarium are vital to the rebirth of Coney Island. This partial reopening will ensure that the aquarium can help all of New York City experience a strong comeback from the devastation caused by Hurricane Sandy.”

WCS is developing a detailed scope and budget for full restoration of the aquarium and a rough estimate puts the cost of the reconstruction in the range of $65 million. WCS continues to also plan for the aquarium expansion, Ocean Wonders: Sharks!

“We have been encouraged by the support from our city, state, and federal officials to secure the funds necessary for the reconstruction,” said Samper. “We thank Mayor Michael Bloomberg, City Councilman Domenic Recchia, and the entire New York Congressional delegation for working toward the reconstruction of the New York Aquarium, which attracts more than 750,000 visitors annually to Brooklyn. We are also seeking strong support from private donors to help ensure that together we rebuild the great aquarium experience that New York City deserves.”

New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg said: “WCS’s New York Aquarium is important to the recovery of Coney Island. The partial reopening is a milestone for the community as it recovers from Hurricane Sandy. The city looks forward to working with WCS to ensure a fully reconstructed and reopened aquarium.”

New York City Councilman Domenic M. Recchia, Jr. said, “The revitalization of South Brooklyn in the wake of Superstorm Sandy would not be complete without the reopening of the New York Aquarium. The partial reopening this spring is a step in the right direction to restoring this iconic cultural and educational institution, but there is much more work that needs to be done before it is back up and running in full. I look forward to working with my counterparts in city, state, and federal government to ensure that such an important driver of tourism and the local economy in South Brooklyn is fully restored.”

Added Jon Forrest Dohlin, WCS Vice President and Director of the New York Aquarium, “For more than 50 years, we have brought up-close experiences of the wonders of the world’s oceans to New York’s children and families. We are determined to ensure this important New York institution returns as strong as ever.”

The New York Aquarium suffered extensive damage due to a significant storm surge on the night of Monday, Oct. 29, 2012, as Hurricane Sandy struck the Northeast. Surge waters from the Atlantic Ocean came over and under the Coney Island Boardwalk completely or partially flooding all buildings at the 14-acre park.  The ocean flood waters destroyed or significantly damaged the facility’s heating, air conditioning, and electrical power and distribution equipment and aquatic life support systems. Flooding damaged the interiors of most exhibit buildings. Losses in the collection were minimal and limited to fish and invertebrates housed in a few tanks. The damage was significant to the infrastructure and the facility has been closed since the night of the storm.

“Many New York families and institutions were devastated by Hurricane Sandy,” said Samper. “WCS is proud to be a part of the comeback spirit of our great City of New York. And we will always be thankful to all the New Yorkers, our public officials, fellow aquariums and zoos, and our friends from around the world, who have provided us financial and emotional support during this very challenging time. This encouragement is helping us to work every day toward a fully reconstructed aquarium.”