Hit by bankruptcy amidst the pandemic
By Tania Arora, Staff Writer
Amongst the list of businesses closing, Vancouver Aquarium holds top placement for the most disappointing. It announced its closure to the public on August 31. The facility was deprived of finances for months because of COVID-19. After September 7, the public programming will pause as authorities plan to transform the facility. The animals will still be taken care of by a team of trained staff. More than 200 people working at the aquarium have lost their jobs.
The pandemic made it harder for the operators to even cover the basics of costs which were tremendous due to the density. According to the Ocean Wise aqua blog, “Although our summer reopening was a huge success in terms of operating in a COVID-safe way, and proving a great visitor experience, the not-for-profit Vancouver Aquarium was not able to cover costs.” For three straight months, the facility was closed. When it reopened in June, in spite of having huge public support, the restrictions imposed made it hard for the aquarium to operate.
Opened in 1956, the aquarium was one of the top tourist destinations in Vancouver. From treasures of BC coast, jellies and tropics to Stellar’s bay, sea otters and dolphins, you may find everything behind their doors. The walls spoke about the rescue of animals and their history.
The aquarium played a major role in the conservation of the environment and wildlife. In their closing remarks, the authorities discussed continuing to be an entrusted resource and educating people on the most pressing issues for our oceans—climate change, pollution and overfishing.
While the aquarium may be closing its doors, the programs within the aquarium such as Ocean Wise Research, Ocean Wise Education, Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup, and Marine Mammal Rescue, and many others won’t be going anywhere. The President and Chief Executive Officer of the non-profit program Ocean Wise, which runs the aquarium, also remains optimistic about the future of the facility. “We’re not closing for good. We’re taking a pause for public programs. The animals aren’t going anywhere,” says Lasse Gustavsson. “The honest answer is we don’t know when we will be open again. Will this be over next year at this time? Your guess is as good as mine,” he said in a Globe and Mail article.
The beauty of the wildlife preserved in the aquarium and the cause to care for the environment had been cherished by Vancouverites for decades and will continue to do so after its doors are closed. For many, it wasn’t just a tourist spot, but a place for people to connect with nature.