Vancouver Aquarium to close indefinitely due to COVID-19 pandemic

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VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – The Vancouver Aquarium will be closed to the public starting September 8, and it’s unclear when it will reopen.Ocean Wise has announced that it will “temporarily suspend public programming” at the aquarium in order to “focus on transforming to a new model” that addresses the financial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Ocean Wise says it will also take time to focus on accelerating ocean conservation.

“Meanwhile, the Aquarium’s animals will continue to receive world-class care from a team of 75 specialist employees, including biologists, trainers and an on-site veterinary team,” a statement said.

More than 200 people are expected to lose their jobs as a result of the closure.

Calling it “one of the most difficult moments in Vancouver Aquarium’s 64-year history,” Ocean Wise says the COVID-19 pandemic is causing an almost 80% drop in ticket sales. Due to safety protocols – introduced to help slow the spread of the coronavirus – the organization says restrictions on visitors would have lasted until next year.

Research, education, cleanup and other initiatives will continue regardless of the aquarium closure. Ocean Wise says the Marine Mammal Rescue and Ocean Wise Seafood programs will also continue.

“We are committed to putting the Aquarium back on a solid financial footing so that we can continue to build on its legacy and address the most pressing ocean conservation challenges of our time, including climate change, pollution and overfishing” Christian Baxter, chairman of the board of directors of Ocean Wise, said in a statement. “The staff cuts were an extremely difficult decision and one that we really hoped to avoid.”

The aquarium, which was forced to close its doors to visitors on March 17, did not reopen until June. It was forced to temporarily lay off 60% of its staff following the closure.

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Ocean Wise warned in mid-April that the Vancouver Aquarium was at risk of closing for good if it couldn’t get at least $ 1 million a month by June.

It was announced in June that the aquarium had raised enough money to keep its emergency relief center open, surpassing its target of $ 125,000, after funding dried up due to the loss of admission.

However, due to the decrease in the number of visitors, the aquarium was not able to cover operating costs.

“In these difficult circumstances, reinventing the aquarium is the most responsible thing we can do,” says Lasse Gustavsson, President and CEO of Ocean Wise. “It is through the support of our members, donors, volunteers, staff, program partners and government that we were able to avoid bankruptcy and take this important step to rebuild and come back even better.



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