By I-Hsien Sherwood ( | First Posted: Apr 06, 2013 02:38 PM EDT

Seal at the New York Aquarium. (Photo : New York Aquarium)

After being shut down by Hurricane Sandy last fall, the New York Aquarium will reopen May 25. Thanks to the efforts of wildlife experts during the storm, all of the animals survived, except for 130 koi fish.

"We are ready to welcome New York families and tourists back into the WCS New York Aquarium. We have worked nonstop to ensure that the marine life in the aquarium was safe and secure. We want to share this progress with New Yorkers and be a part of the Coney Island comeback following Hurricane Sandy," Cristián Samper, Wildlife Conservation Society President, said.

Sandy inflicted $65 million worth of damage on the aquarium, which is located in hard-hit Coney Island. Thus far, $7 million in repairs have been completed.

"I want to thank all of our Coney Island neighbors for supporting us through these difficult months since the hurricane. The community spirit has inspired the WCS aquarium staff to work hard every day so we can reopen and again bring economic stimulus to Coney Island and to share the wonders of the oceans with New Yorkers and tourists," Aquarium Director Jon Forrest Dohlin said.

While repairs are not yet complete, the aquarium is opening many of exhibits, featuring walrus, sea lions, harbor seals, sea otters and penguins, as well as exhibitions of coral reef sea life from Belize and Fiji, lake species from East Africa and freshwater animals from the Amazon.

The reopening is a triumph for the aquarium and the community. "Sandy's surge overran carefully calibrated tanks with oily, debris-filled water, knocked out even backup power to all the exhibits and made it impossible to check on some of them for days. Managers contemplated shipping animals away and wondered whether the institution itself could survive in its spot on Coney Island," the Associated Press writes. Hopefully many more local businesses and organizations will follow.

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