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Ripley's Aquarium plans expansion, penguin exhibit at Broadway at the Beach in Myrtle Beach SC

Ripley’s Aquarium at Broadway at the Beach is planning its first expansion since it opened 17 years ago.

The 85,000-square-foot facility, recently named one of the top 12 aquariums in the nation by, plans to add about 6,000 square feet for a penguin exhibit and upgraded plaza that will shelter those who visit Myrtle Beach SC from the rain or hot, summer sun.

The attraction is at Broadway at the Beach, the top tourist destination in South Carolina.

Construction on the expansion is scheduled to begin in September and be finished by June 2015, just in time for the family vacation summer season. The proposal must clear the Myrtle Beach’s Community Appearance Board before work can begin.

Officials said penguins was a logical choice for expansion, because many guests had asked for them. A penguin exhibit also does very well at the aquarium in Gatlinburg, Tenn.

The exhibit will include a crawl through tunnel and pop-up bubble windows for kids to get an up-close look at the penguins. Officials still are deciding other details, including how many penguins the exhibit will hold.

For even more on this story that was reported by The Sun News reporter and editor Dawn Bryant, visit