Aquarium visitors offered journey to Madagascar

By Lia

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) - Soon South Carolinians won't have to leave the state to journey to Madagascar.

The South Carolina Aquarium is constructing a new exhibit that will immerse visitors in this distant land.

"You're going to walk through the doors and feel like you're getting off the plane walking onto the island of Madagascar," Public Relations Manager, Kate Dittloff said.

Since January, creative minds have been constructing 10 new exhibits for the "Madagascar Journey" that will open in the spring.

"It's definitely going to be fun. Every changing exhibit we do we try to come up with either an area or theme of fun habitats or amazing creatures you just don't see everywhere," Exhibit Fabricator, Nigel Bowers, said.

What can visitors expect to see? For one, ring-tail lemurs will be out and about, but the sky is the limit as a creative team has taken ideas and inspiration from photographs and sketches -- now turning them into something real.

"This has been one of the most extensive projects I've been involved with," Bowers said. "We hired a few more staff members specifically just to assist in this project."

Twenty percent of the aquarium's floor space is currently undergoing transformation. This will make it the largest exhibit since it the aquarium opened.

Dittloff said Madagascar was chosen because there needs to be more awareness about conservation.

"The island is one of the most diverse islands in the entire world, yet only 15 percent of its natural forest actually still remains."

The exhibit will also include a toddler mini-gascar play area.