Aquarium cashes in old and forgotten coins to help care for animals

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(Photo: Getty Images/Gallo Images)
(Photo: Getty Images/Gallo Images)

Lockdown has been hard on wildlife parks and aquariums – feet haven’t been coming through the door but the animals still needed to be fed.

So one aquarium resorted to an innovative way of keeping their coffers boosted: mining all the coins visitors tossed into an ornamental on-site waterfall and cashing them in to buy vital provisions to keep the marine life going.

In a Facebook post, staff at the North Carolina Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores  aquarium told how they had turned off the 9 metre tall Smoky Mountain waterfall and collected all the change people had tossed into it to make a wish.

“About 370 litres worth of coins were cleaned and sorted and will go toward the general care of the aquarium and animals during this time,” the post said.

It was quite a task – staff had to collect and sort almost 14 years’ worth of coins from the waterfall.

After the coins were cleaned, sorted and sifted they were sent to an automated coin counter – and after about 10 hours of counting the amount came to $8,563,71 (more than R140 000).

(Photo: Getty Images/Gallo Images)
(Photo: Getty Images/Gallo Images)

“We are so grateful to have been able to find this unexpected treasure,” an updated Facebook post read.  

During lockdown staff entertained fans via Facebook live tours of the resident creature and provided information sessions and even virtual activities for students.

The aquarium recently announced doors would be opening again on 14 September. And thanks to the coin haul, the sealife will be alive and ready to welcome humans back again.

Sources:, NC aquariums Facebook,,

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