CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - Financial losses blamed on the coronavirus pandemic forced South Carolina Aquarium leaders to lay off 23 employees.
The layoffs happened between July and August, spokesman Josh Zalabak said.
President and CEO Kevin Mills released the following statement on the layoffs Wednesday afternoon:
Faced with significant financial losses due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we made the difficult decision to lay off a total of 23 staff in July and August. We’re heartbroken to say goodbye to members of our Aquarium family. Like the rest of our team, they were outstanding employees who tirelessly worked to fulfill our mission and make a difference in the realms of animal care, conservation and education. The void left by their departure will be felt not only by us, but throughout the communities in which they served outside of our walls. Our staff is what makes the Aquarium such an instrumental source of wonder for all who step through our doors.
In addition to the layoffs, we also reduced some full-time positions to part-time and have elected not to backfill vacant positions. Positions have been eliminated across all departments, including education, conservation, animal care and administration. As a result, several programs that serve the public have had to be reduced or suspended for the foreseeable future.
We closed our doors on March 16 and reopened at limited capacity on May 22, after being closed for 68 days. During a typical year, general admission and membership sales account for approximately 80% of our revenue, with the spring and summer months accounting for the majority of our business. We continue to operate at a limited capacity through these crucial months.
As a nonprofit organization, we rely on the generosity of our public to enable its mission and core programming to continue. We are now more reliant than ever on our community’s support, and grateful to everyone who finds value in our work and helps to sustain it.
To support the future of our Aquarium, please consider visiting, purchasing a membership or making a donation at https://scaquarium.org/relief/.
The aquarium currently employs 91 full-time staff members and 17 part-time staff members, Zalabak said.