Vancouver Aquarium receives over $620,000 in donations to sustain animal care, operations during COVID closure

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VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — A week after the Vancouver Aquarium went public with its dire financial situation, it is thanking the public for substantial donations.

The aquarium says more than $620,000 has been raised from over 8,200 individuals.

“The outpouring of donations, emails, support and encouragement from the general public has been just incredible. We are so grateful,” president of Ocean Wise Conservation Association, Lasse Gustavsson says. “This is a clear message from the public that the Vancouver Aquarium is a highly valued community, environmental, and educational institution that must continue for generations to come.”

Donations have been pouring in from about 31 countries, like Slovakia, Finland, and the Philippines. “This is a huge amount of money. If you think that every donation is a vote for the aquarium, we are very moved and very grateful for the support the community has shown in the last week.”

However, the president says the popular tourist attraction is not out of the woods yet.

“Conservation organization still needs to raise more funds to care for animals, and guarantee it can reopen, given the closure could last many more months. The Vancouver Aquarium is a self-sustaining, not-for-profit organization that does not receive monthly or annual government operating grants.”

Gustavsson says they need a $1-million a month to keep the animals fed and the water circulating.

Following the closure of the aquarium on March 17, the loss of revenue has caused the aquarium to implement an “extensive list of cost-cutting measures.”

“These include laying off 60% of staff, suspending Marine Mammal Rescue Centre operations, reducing staff hours where it does not impact animal care, suspending all building maintenance, cancelling capital renovations, reducing utility consumption by 60%, cutting travel including field research and conservation in the Arctic, and voluntary pay cuts among senior executives,” the release reads.

The new measures have brought animal care, facility and operation expenses down dramatically, to approximately $1-million per month.

Gustavsson believes the federal and provincial governments are poised to help.

“We’ve been very positively surprised by how eager the governments are to help. I am very optimistic the governments will step up.”