For many of us who’ve been caught in a pinch, money-wise, it’s not uncommon to occasionally grab our piggy-bank or take some of the spare change we’ve accumulated over the months or years and use the funds to pay the bills.
But for the North Carolina Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores, gathering spare change isn’t a matter of digging between couch cushions or making a trip to a Coinstar machine – instead, this aquarium was able to collect funds by the literal bucket-load to the tune of about 100 gallons of change.
With the coronavirus pandemic leading to lockdowns across the United States and the world, many aquariums and zoos have been caught in a bind – dealing with not only the typical maintenance costs of keeping their animals healthy and well-fed, but also paying their workers’ wages and salaries in the absence of normal revenue from visitors.
Many aquariums and zoos have been reminding the public that they still exist by offering virtual tours, or even by offering tours to other animals that typically don’t get out of their own enclosures.
But with bills continuing to pour in, the staff at the aquarium decided to take action by collecting roughly 100 gallons of sunken wishes made by guests over the years and using it to keep the business afloat.
“About 100 gallons of coins were cleaned and sorted and will go toward the general care of the aquarium and animals during this time,” the aquarium said in Facebook update posted to its page on Saturday.
Our staff turned off the 30-foot tall Smoky Mountain waterfall and collected all the coins! About 100 gallons of coins…
The coins had been tossed into the aquarium’s 30-foot tall Smoky Mountain waterfall, which staffers drained in order to collect the coins. And with financial trouble nipping at the aquarium’s heels, why not tap into the wishing well for a bit of good fortune.
As it turns out, the coins had accumulated over the course of 14 years.
The aquarium asked social media followers to guess how much money had been collected. When the final count had been performed, it turned out that they managed to recover nearly $9,000.
“And the grand total is $8,563.71,” the aquarium announced on Facebook.
The aquarium admitted that they “had severely underestimated how long it would take to clean, sort, and sift through all the coins.”
Indeed, it took over 10 hours just to feed the coins through a change counter at their bank.
We can only imagine how long such a massive war-chest of coinage would take to feed through the Coinstar coin-cashing machine at the local grocery store.
The North Carolina Aquariums remain closed as the state continues to maintain social distancing guidelines as a part of its “Safer at Home Phase 2” measures. It remains unclear when the state will move into Phase 3, when a safe reopening of the facilities are possible.
In the meantime, workers at the aquariums continue to maintain the facility, continue construction projects, and create new and exciting virtual programs for curious students and their families.
The North Carolina Aquarium has been conducting virtual tours and interactive virtual summer camps for kids.
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