Ocean Wise has decided to pause all public programming at the Vancouver Aquarium, which will close to the public in order to transition to a new model of operation amid COVID-19.
The decision comes in response to one of the most financially challenging times in the aquarium’s history, with an almost 80 percent decline in ticket sales.
Vancouver Aquarium’s focus will now be on transitioning to a new model that is financially viable and that accelerates the ocean conservation programmes.
All public programming will be paused from September 7. During this time, the aquarium’s animals will continue to receive world-class care.
Sadly, the pause in public programming will result in the loss of 209 full-time, part-time and casual jobs, primarily affecting operational staff at Vancouver Aquarium.
“We are committed to getting the aquarium back on solid financial footing so that we can continue to build on its legacy and tackle the most pressing ocean conservation challenges of our time, including climate change, pollution, and overfishing,” said Christian Baxter, board chair of Ocean Wise.
Vancouver Aquarium closes from September 7
To our cherished #VanAqua family, friends and community. Today we shared the news that the Vancouver Aquarium will be temporarily pausing public programming after September 7, 2020. While closed @OceanWise will focus on transformation: https://t.co/TC9PyOU69I pic.twitter.com/KJu3iig5iT
— Vancouver Aquarium (@vanaqua) August 31, 2020
“Staff reductions were an incredibly difficult decision and one we truly hoped to avoid,” added Baxter.
Vancouver Aquarium reopened with health and safety measures in June. However, restrictions on visitor numbers meant that it was unable to cover operating costs, which exceed $1 million monthly.
“Under these difficult circumstances, transforming the aquarium is the most responsible thing we can do,” said Lasse Gustavsson, president and CEO of Ocean Wise.
“It is because of support from 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.
“Since its founding in 1956, the Vancouver Aquarium has always been a leader. We intend to be a leader again now in confronting this challenge head on.”