Vancouver Aquarium closes to the public until further notice as COVID-19 losses continue

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The Vancouver Aquarium announced Monday that more than 200 staff are laid off, mostly from the operations sector, as the aquarium closes to the public in a bid to save money after months of financial loss .The Ocean Wise Conservation Association, which operates the facility, said in a statement that all public broadcasts would be “suspended” until further notice effective Sept. 7.

The shutdown means dozens of people, from full-time workers to casual workers, are losing their jobs.

“The staff cuts were an incredibly difficult decision and we really hoped to avoid it,” wrote Christian Baxter, Chairman of the Board of Ocean Wise.

Monday’s statement said specialist staff, such as veterinarians and biologists, would remain on staff to care for animals at the facility.

The layoffs announced on Monday come in addition to more than 330 people who already lost their jobs at the aquarium in early spring.

The aquarium reopened in June with federal emergency funding of $ 2 million after a three-month closure at the start of the pandemic.

Terry Beech, MP for Burnaby North-Seymour, visits the Vancouver Aquarium with his wife and daughter after announcing a $ 2 million grant to the aquarium on June 26. millions per month. (Maggie MacPherson / CBC)

A reduced number of guests were allowed to return during the summer, in line with public health guidelines, but the drop in income prevented the aquarium from recouping its losses.

Hundreds of thousands of dollars in donations covered only a few weeks of operations.

Ocean Wise said it costs $ 1 million per month to feed and care for the 70,000 animals in the aquarium.

In order to avoid bankruptcy, the aquarium said its board of directors plans to try to create a new business model “that is both financially viable in light of the pandemic and also accelerates Ocean’s mission. Wise conservation of the oceans ”.

“Under these difficult circumstances, the transformation of the aquarium is the most responsible thing we can do,” said Lasse Gustavsson, President and CEO of Ocean Wise.

The aquarium, which was the country’s first public aquarium, opened in 1956.



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