Thanks to the care of dedicated staff members, there are survivors to rescue, notably sea otters, penguins, a 250 lb. green sea turtle, and rare leafy and weedy sea dragons. Audubon Nature Institute President Ron Forman personally fed the otters and refilled the tank fueling the generator that powered the life support system; and a New Orleans police officer was given a crash course to feed the aquarium’s penguins.
"Our dedicated staff at the Zoo, Aquarium and our Research Center cared for our animals through the hurricane, flooding and civil unrest. Some of our staff were uncertain about the fate of their family members and homes, but continued to work to protect our animals. It is truly miraculous that Audubon Zoo was spared catastrophic damage and can maintain a limited infrastructure from which to provide the most basic of care for our animals." said Ronald Forman, President and Chief Executive Officer.
On Friday, aquarium staff will rescue and relocate most of the surviving animals while it plans its recovery and reopening. Two sea otters and 19 penguins will be moved to the Monterey Bay Aquarium; leafy and weedy sea dragons to the Dallas World Aquarium; and Midas the sea turtle to the Rainforest at Moody Gardens. Eight large tarpon will remain in the aquarium’s Gulf of Mexico exhibit.
Aquarium of the Americas marked its 15th anniversary on Monday, September 5 and has attracted more than 18 million visitors.