Ripley’s Aquarium in Myrtle Beach won’t be hosting a penguin exhibit this year after all.
Though some renovations are moving forward, they don’t include building a spot for the planned penguin exhibit, which initially was expected to debut in June.
“The penguins will not be coming,” Ripley’s spokeswoman Bethany Marshall said. “Because so many other of the aquariums have penguins, we are just finding a way to be different.”
The aquarium at Broadway at the Beach is amid a $3.6 million renovation that’s expected to be done in late May or early June, Marshall said, but officials aren’t giving details about it.
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City records hint at pieces that might be part of the project. Ripley’s has received a permit for a jellyfish exhibit and also has the Community Appearance Board’s approval to repaint the outside of the building.
“We really are excited about what is coming,” Marshall said.
Ripley’s had received a preliminary OK for the footprint of the proposed 7,000-square-foot penguin exhibit from the city’s Community Appearance Board on July 17. That board also must sign off on the construction plans before work can start, but Ripley’s has not submitted them for consideration, said Heidi Soos, the city’s plans expeditor and CAB secretary.
Ripley’s officials said last summer that they wanted to add the penguins exhibit because they are popular with guests and would diversify the aquarium’s offerings. A penguins exhibit is a popular feature at the Ripley’s Aquarium in Gatlinburg, Tenn.
Officials also said the renovation would include an expanded lobby closer to the parking lot, but nothing has changed in that area yet.
Ripley’s Aquarium opened at Broadway at the Beach in 1997 and is known for its tunnel that allows visitors to get an underwater view of the sharks and other creatures, as well as for its stingrays and interactive features.
The 85,000-square-foot aquarium was named one of the top 12 aquariums in the nation by DestinationsTravelMagazine.com last year.
Ripley’s also owns several attractions along Ocean Boulevard in Myrtle Beach, including Believe It or Not.
Contact DAWN BRYANT at 626-0296 or on Twitter @TSN_dawnbryant.