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New Orleans Aquarium Unable to Sustain Many Animals


Last week we spoke with Suzanne Albes, a marine biologist at the Audubon Aquarium of the Americas in New Orleans. She described their efforts to keep air circulating in the fish tanks once Katrina struck. She was evacuated two days later and did not know how the creatures were doing. Many of you wrote to ask what happened. The news is not good. The aquarium building survived relatively intact, but the life support systems did not and most of the animals in the aquatic exhibits were lost; thousands of them. However, due to the efforts of a few aquarium staff and some police officers who took refuge at the aquarium, many of the mammals were saved. The sea otters, penguins, macaws, raptors, a few fish and Midas, the 250-pound green sea turtle, all survived.

Ms. Albes was particularly concerned about the creatures she personally tended, the delicate seahorses and sea dragons. The seahorses did not survive, but the leafy and weedy sea dragons did, to everyone's surprise. Aquarium officials insist they will rebuild and restock and open once again, although that will take at least a year. The aquarium was Louisiana's most visited tourist attraction.

You're listening to WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.