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Donation allows S.C. Aquarium to expand its sea turtle hospital

The South Carolina Aquarium has received a $3 million donation, the largest in the organization’s history.

The gift by the Zucker family is part of the aquarium’s Watershed Fund fundraising initiative.

The Watershed Fund is designed to allow the aquarium to expand its conservation and education efforts and improve the guest experience.

The gift will be used to help expand the aquarium’s sea turtle hospital and educational programs.

“We have only been able to take a limited number of visitors at a time into our Sea Turtle Hospital behind-the-scenes tour,” said Kevin Mills, aquarium president and CEO.

“Thanks to the extraordinary generosity of the Zucker family, all of our guests and visiting school groups will be able to share in the experience of seeing sea turtles in various stages of recovery. We will also be able to increase our patient capacity and continue to develop new therapies and treatments that already have positioned us as one of the world’s foremost resources for sea turtle rehabilitation.”

The Zucker family has supported the aquarium since before its opening.

Jerry Zucker was a founding board member of the South Carolina Aquarium in 1992 and served as chairman of the board from 2006 to 2008. Anita Zucker, was instrumental in developing the Aquarium’s education master plan upon the facility’s opening.

Their son, Jonathan, joined the board in 2009 and was recently elected chairman of the aquarium’s board of directors.

“My personal experiences around, in, and under water truly played a role in sparking my love for science and the natural world.” said Jonathan Zucker.

“The aquarium plays a very important role in continuing to demystify and expose the seemingly alien creatures and habitat of the marine world and the science that makes it tick.”

About $2.5 million of the gift will be used to expand the aquarium’s sea turtle hospital. The hospital is part of the Sea Turtle Rescue Program which rescues and rehabilitates sick and injured sea turtles found along the east coast with the ultimate goal of releasing them back into the wild. The expansion will allow guests to see the expertise staff provides in caring for sea turtles.