Hundreds support Mississippi Aquarium at annual Sea of Stars benefit

GULFPORT, Miss. (WLOX) - The Mississippi Aquarium went all out for its annual fundraiser Saturday night in Gulfport.

The Hancock Whitney Sea of Stars benefit included a live concert, coastal cuisine and cocktails, and even animal encounters with residents like Tito the Sloth.

Tito is one of the aquarium’s newcomers, along with about 120 other new species in the new Changing Tides exhibit.

The facility just wrapped up its first-ever expansion project, and there’s even more on the horizon.

“A lot of people don’t realize that the operators of this aquarium - it’s a non-profit. And, so, we rely on admissions. But we also rely on donors from corporations and individuals to help us care for these animals and give them the best possible care throughout the year,” said Patrick Pearson, Vice-President of Sales and Marketing for the Mississippi Aquarium.

Organizers say they’re hopeful funds raised at this event can help support a new penguin exhibit.

Right now, the aquarium houses 11 African penguins in an off-site facility. The goal for 2024 is to build them a permanent home that the public can also enjoy.

The Mississippi Aquarium is open seven days a week from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. To buy tickets or to plan your visit, check out their website

Click here to subscribe to WLOX News on YouTube: Keep up with South Mississippi news, sports, and local events on our YouTube channel!

Amber Spradley

Amber Spradley

Amber Spradley is a reporter and weekend anchor for WLOX News Now. She is originally from Atlanta and graduated magna cum laude from Georgia State University.