SC Aquarium can thank penguins for attendance jump

CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) - Officials at the South Carolina Aquarium say they made a $1.1 million profit the first nine months of this year and will soon pay off the remaining debt from its opening nearly 10 years ago.

Officials credit a new exhibit called Penguin Planet for a 12 percent increase in aquarium visitors this year.

Aquarium President and Chief Executive Kevin Mills told The Post and Courier of Charleston that the attraction needs just a few more key donors to pay the last bit of the $12 million debt the aquarium picked up when it opened in 2000.

Mills says the attraction will use the extra cash from the payoff of the debt and the increase in visitors for pay raises as well as new paint, carpet and equipment.

(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)