Construction has been delayed for one year on a new exhibit at the N.C. Aquarium at Fort Fisher.
Originally slated to open in 2019, construction of the new Asian otter exhibit was supposed to begin this month.
“The aquarium has been planning this build for a long time with design and funding in place,” Associate Director Brian Dorn said in a news release. “We developed a critical window for construction to limit the impact on guests and animals, but no one could plan for the impact of Hurricane Florence.”
The high demand for construction trade firms as a result of Hurricane Florence reduced the immediate interest and availability for the project by building contractors, the release stated. In addition, shifting the construction timeline later into the year would have a negative effect on the visitor experience during the summer months when the aquarium hosts as much as 50 percent of its annual visitation, aquarium officials said in the release.
“Our goal is to create the best possible space for the otters to help share their critical conservation story, while also limiting any inconvenience for visitors,” said Dorn. “The delay is not ideal but is necessary to succeed in this.”
Officials plan to re-bid the $1.2 million project this summer. Funding comes from “private donations, the North Carolina Aquarium Society and aquarium receipts.”