It's been a long, lonely, brutal winter in Brooklyn. And not just because a lot of our favorite beaches won't be opening back up at all this summer. Or because it was still snowing, like, two days ago. Both those things are bad, sure, maybe even downright demoralizing, but the real issue at hand has been our separation from Mitik the baby walrus, and all his other aquatic friends down at the New York Aquarium. This, more than anything, has been the crux of our malaise.
But, no more! After taking a battering during Hurricane Sandy (and incurring about $65 million in damage), the aquarium is now set to re-open to the public by the end of spring, though there's no confirmed date. This means, of course, renewed access to Mitik, who not only survived the storm, but according to handlers, "seemed to enjoy splashing in a couple of feet of surge water." Such. A. Champ.
"I don't think we could abandon this facility. Not that we didn't think about it - we thought through everything," aquarium Director Jon Forrest Dohlin told the Daily News. "We want to be here, and we also want to be able to talk to the community about what we did, how we handled this, and how the city of New York can start to look toward the future of living in this coastal environment."
Parts of the aquarium are still undergoing repairs (as is work on the giant shark add-on scheduled to open in 2016), but about 80 percent of the facility is nearly ready to open its doors. Soon, in addition to "learning about sea life" and "supporting a landmark local institution" or whatever, we can snuggle with Mitik to our collective heart's content, playing with that orange cone thing he likes, sneaking in his favorite snacks (dead fish?), catching up about everything he's been reading and watching and listening to over the past few months, honing his plans for summer. Basking in each others' company, really. Or we'll just watch him through glass as he safely plays with his handlers. Sometimes the best relationships are the ones we build slowly, anyway.
Follow Virginia K. Smith on Twitter @vksmith.