A group of penguins watch sea lions swim at the Vancouver Aquarium. (Vanaqua/Instagram)

Vancouver Aquarium to shut its doors, focus on new business model amid COVID-19 losses

Welfare of animals is top priority, CEO says

The Vancouver Aquarium will shut its doors to the public on Sept. 8 to focus on transforming its public-facing business model to adapt to the pandemic.

In a letter to the public Monday (Aug. 31), Ocean Wise CEO Lasse Gustavsson said the aquarium has had a difficult time adapting to a COVID-19 model of operations. The facility said it was at risk of permanently closing earlier this spring as the pandemic forced it to temporarily shut its doors.

Although the aquarium reopened this summer, and despite a Vancouver Whitecaps aided fundraising campaign, Gustavsson said the situation has not improved.

READ MORE: Vancouver Aquarium, at risk of permanently closing, raises $600K in donations

“For the two-months we were open this summer, ticket sales were down by almost 80 per cent and our not-for-profit aquarium was losing more than $1 million dollars a month,” he said.

“Over the coming months, we will focus on transforming our business model so that we can be financially sustainable in this new world.”

The aquarium will continue to employ a team of 75 staff, including biologists, animal care experts, water quality technicians and veterinarians, to take care of its animals. The facility received $2 million from the federal government to cover animal care costs in July.

With capacity restrictions expected to continue well into next year, the aquarium has no anticipated reopening date.


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katya.slepian@bpdigital.ca

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