Call It a Comeback: Sea Lions Welcome You to Their New Home!

 

 New York Aquarium, normally the only Coney Island attraction open to the public every day of the year, opens its doors again today after having been closed since Hurricane Sandy hit our shores last fall. The partial re-opening allows guests to see otters, walruses, and plenty of other marine mammals, including the resident sea lions. NYMetroParents got a preview of the show in the fully remodeled aquatheater—and even in today’s autumn-like weather, it’s worth the trip!

Personality-Small

This 500+ pound California sea lion, Osborne, will turn 13 years old this summer. My son and I were treated to this front-row display when Osborne peered over the fence for a little fan-friendly engagement.

The partial reopening includes: Glover’s Reef (featuring the sea life found in Glover’s Reef, Belize); exhibits in Conservation Hall (Coral Triangle of Fiji, Great Lakes of East Africa, and the Flooded Forests of the Amazon); and outdoor Sea Cliffs (walrus, sea lions, harbor seals, sea otters, and penguins).

The revamped sea lion show puts the animals’ abilities—and charm!—on full display, and the trainers who work with them daily are clearly happy to be returning to the stage along with them.

After seven long months, the animals appear to be as excited to see us as we are to see them. “These animals have never gone a stretch of time without seeing people,” said Jon Forrest Dohlin, WCS vice president and director of the New York Aquarium. “All of a sudden they were popping up going ‘Hey, hey a person at last! Hey, I’m over here!’”

“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.”

Eleven-year-old California seal lion Duke—a native New Yorker, born at the Bronx Zoo—played frisbee with senior trainer Guenter Skammet.

Eleven-year-old California seal lion Duke—a native New Yorker, born at the Bronx Zoo—played frisbee with senior trainer Guenter Skammet.

Walrus

Osborne doing his walrus impersonation—pretty good, no?

“We New Yorkers are a tough bunch of people, and there is no keeping us down. Take that, Sandy!” enthused Angela Coccoma, the WCS trainer who narrated the show yesterday.

Living along coastal waters in today’s climate is a different prospect than it was even a few decades ago. Experts and those devastated by the impacts of recent hurricanes debate the impact of global warming, and WCS continues to examine the challenges through a conservation lens.

“It’s an important conservation story for us to tell, and we will tell that story,” Dohlin said.

 

Wildlife Conservation Society’s New York Aquarium is open every day of the year. Summer hours are May 25 – Sept. 2, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily.

A Parent’s Postscript

My son was the only kid who attended the preview yesterday at the New York Aquarium—he was lucky enough to have a front row seat to the sea lion exhibit, and was able to gaze into the fish tanks with no one standing in front of him—and he talked about it nonstop when we got home. But in between the sea lions’ aquatheater antics and my boy’s at-home recollections, he was approached by reporters and camera-people from nearly every major news outlet in our area, including ABC News, NY1, 1010 Wins, Getty Images, and FOX -TV—they all wanted a cute shot or a colorful quote from the kid.

But wouldn’t you know, he threw the tantrum of all tantrums, and refused to speak to a single person. Was I embarrassed that as a long-time parenting editor (I’ve been reading advice from experts long before I became a parent, having worked at Parenting and Child magazines for years before) I could not get my child to behave? Hell, yes. But I also thought, What can I do? Realistically, he’s three-and-a-half, and he’s asserting himself, just as he should. Just: Why did he have to do it (a) in public, (b) right after having so much fun, and (c) when he could have been in the limelight for a day? I think the better question (his) is: Why not?!

His tantrum in the car was so, um, enthusiastic, that I would have needed a high-speed setting on my camera to get a clear shot!

His tantrum in the car was so, um, enthusiastic, that I would have needed a high-speed setting on my camera to get a clear shot!

 

Five minutes later—ahhhhh, peace.

Five minutes later—ahhhhh, peace.

 

Comments
One Response to “Call It a Comeback: Sea Lions Welcome You to Their New Home!”
  1. Tracy G says:

    Love the postscript! Have SO been there.

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