With today’s partial reopening of the Sandy-damaged NY Aquarium, the star team of sea lions are back to work after seven months, suffering tremendous performance anxiety in the wake of grand-opening demands from staff, the entire Coney Island finance committee, and their own personal, very high standards.
To make matters worse, today’s reopening is also accompanied by the reopening of the aquarium’s daily “Sea Lion Celebration” show, in which the sea lions must - according to the website - “crawl like a caterpillar, do a backbend like a gymnast, and bark on cue.”
“I mean, really?” says Diego, who’s been performing in the Sea Lion Show for close to eight years. “I don’t care that the aquatheater has been renovated. It’s enough that the whole place is open. I just want my old life back.”
The “old life” Diego speaks of is the one he lead these past, visitor-free seven months when the aquarium was closed.
“All we did was peacefully swim and snooze without anyone watching and judging and demanding anything from us,” says fellow star sea lion Osborne. “I really don’t think I can get back into this again. I really can’t.”