I volunteer at the Florida Aquarium and I know how much the staff and volunteers care for all the animals. We aren't as big as the Georgia aquarium though and I have been to the Georgia aquarium and it is expensive, but also huge!! Most of the money for Aquariums goes into maintaining the aquarium, research, inshore/offshore and beach cleanups, and conservation efforts, so it isn't all about lining pockets, especially because i believe most aquariums are actually listed as a not-for-profit organization. I do strongly believe that some animals should not be kept at aquariums (such as great whites, because they just don't survive in them).
There are also a couple of examples at the Florida Aquarium of animals living well beyond their normal life span, like our moray eels. All of our sea turtles were found after boating accidents or the like and would not survive in the wild after their sustained injuries healed.
As I dive in the tanks to clean them every other Saturday, I also get to see the guests walk by and all the smiling faces and kids in awe that i'm in a tank with all these sting rays, or with 3 sharks, or with some lobsters, or with some alligator garfish or whatever is in the tank with me that i'm cleaning.
The lobsters like to play with my zippers on the ankles of my wetsuit, the horseshoe crabs like to grab onto your feet and it tickles a lot, the barracuda likes to watch the people that are watching him and he'll descend below the glass line, and then come back up like a creepy stalker. One of the groupers loves bubbles and the grey angles have a habit of trying to pull your hair out. They all have personalities, and they are all cared for deeply by all the staff and volunteers. Yes, sometimes animals will pass away, but just like a pet, it is inevitable and it is always heartbreaking when it happens, but it usually happens after a healthy long life span was lived out.
After the gasparilla parade or marti gras or any of those activities on or around the bay, the Aquarium will gather volunteers to clean up the waters, SO MANY BEADS get tossed into the water way during these things, and we go in and try to clean it up as much as we can.
I think aquariums are an important and 'hands on/eyes on' way for kids to start learning about our oceans, wetlands and marshes early and start understanding the animals that live there and how they are effected by pollution such as plastic in our ocean, and climate changes, and so on. It is important for them to see the animals and understand what conservation is and why it is important. Without seeing, it is harder for a child to understand, I think.
There are certainly right ways and wrong ways to run aquariums or zoos and if it is done correctly and cares for its animals and isn't about just profit, i think it is a great educational tool for humans of all ages.
Just my thoughts. I may be a little bias since I volunteer at one, but even before volunteering I felt this way about aquariums/zoos... it is certainly a bittersweet, i don't like to see animals locked up, but if they are well cared for and loved, or would not have been able to survive in the wild, then, it is a good way to help educate others. It just has to be done properly.