ATLANTA (August 23, 2006) – The Georgia Aquarium, which opened 9 months ago on November 23, 2006, today welcomed its three millionth guest, becoming the first U.S. aquarium in 75 years to record the milestone number within the first year. It has been reported that Chicago’s Shedd Aquarium recorded four million guests the first full year after it opened on May 30, 1930.

Cathy Kleiser and her children, Becky and Ben, of Toronto, Canada, were greeted by Aquarium benefactor Bernie Marcus and Executive Director Jeff Swanagan. The Kleiser family received numerous gifts from the Aquarium, including an annual pass for 2007 and prizes from Aquarium sponsors Accenture, AirTran Airways®, BellSouth®, The Coca-Cola Company, Comcast®, Georgia-Pacific, Glenn Hotel, Hyatt Regency Atlanta, Home Depot®, Kenwood, Marriott Marquis, Ritz-Carlton®, Sheraton Atlanta, Southern Company, SunTrustSM Bank and Turner Broadcasting®.

It was Marcus who, at the opening of the Aquarium, first predicted that three million people would visit the Aquarium in its first year, while others believed the number would run somewhere around two million.

“The people of Atlanta and Georgia have embraced this Aquarium from its very first day,” Marcus said. “And, we have been fortunate to have visitors from every U.S. state, as well as foreign guests.”

“I am particularly pleased that many of our annual pass holders have visited two and three times in nine months. They have found there is something new to see and experience each time they come, and we plan to continue adding to the excitement of the galleries.”

ACVB President Spurgeon Richardson added that the Georgia Aquarium has had a major economic impact on tourism in the state, and has led Atlanta’s largest boom in tourism since the Summer Olympic Games in 1996.

“The success of the Georgia Aquarium has brought international attention to our city as a top leisure destination. Not only are visitors coming to Atlanta to see the Georgia Aquarium but they’re also staying to see our other world-class attractions. And with the aquarium positioned in the heart of the convention district, we hope that our conventioneers will plan to come a day early, stay a day late or bring their family with them to experience all Atlanta has to offer,” Richardson said.

Swanagan saluted “the 50,000 teachers and students who were part of the Georgia Aquarium’s education program in its Learning Loop. They were early supporters of this Aquarium and its programs.”

Governor Sonny Perdue applauded the Georgia Aquarium staff. “The team at the Georgia Aquarium ensured that each of the three million guests had a positive and unique experience during their visit,” said Governor Sonny Perdue. “The Georgia Aquarium’s customer focused strategy is setting an inspiring example that we’re working hard to replicate in state government. The Aquarium is one of the many reasons that downtown Atlanta is recognized as a tourist destination around the world.”



Georgia Aquarium opened in Atlanta, Georgia on November 23, 2005, as the world’s largest aquarium. Georgia Aquarium is a $250 million gift to the people of Georgia from Bernie Marcus, co-founder of The Home Depot, and his wife Billi, through the Marcus Foundation. The Aquarium, which has welcomed more than three million visitors in 9 months, is overseen by a nonprofit corporation run by a board of directors. The mission of the Georgia Aquarium is to be an entertaining, educational and scientific institution featuring exhibitions and programs of the highest standards, offering engaging and entertaining visitors’ experiences, and promoting the conservation of aquatic biodiversity throughout the world. Georgia Aquarium is committed to continually working to provide the best guest experience. It is the goal of the Georgia Aquarium to educate audiences of all ages, while promoting a fun and entertaining learning experience that inspires guests to appreciate the world’s aquatic biodiversity and to take conservation action.

For additional information on the Georgia Aquarium, visit