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Vancouver Aquarium faces bankruptcy amid coronavirus shutdown

Vancouver Aquarium says it could close permanently because of COVID-19 crisis
The Vancouver Aquarium says the financial strain caused by the COVID-19 crisis could force it to close permanently. Nadia Stewart reports.

It’s been one month since the Vancouver Aquarium shut its doors due to the coronavirus pandemic, and management is going public with concerns over the facility’s financial future.

“From a financial point of view for the Vancouver Aquarium, this is a disaster. Eighty-five per cent of our revenue comes from aquarium operations,” Ocean Wise president and CEO Lasse Gustavsson told CKNW’s Mornings with Simi

The aquarium has laid off 343 staff in an effort to cut costs, but its monthly operating expense is still in excess of $1 million.

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Ocean Wise, which operates the facility, has applied to governments for $9.5 million, but has not heard back yet.

“So far, our dialogue with both the federal and the provincial governments have been constructive. I generally do believe they want to help, but we have yet to see any money,” Gustavsson said.

READ MORE: Vancouver Aquarium lays off nearly 350 workers due to coronavirus outbreak

The facility has said it has cut everything that can be cut, but it’s still caring for approximately 70,000 animals, from spiders to sea lions. And without financial support, it could be forced to close in the next two or three months.

“If we have to go bankrupt, we will do it — paying all our loans and all our debts and making sure that we have the money required for re-homing those animals,” Gustavsson said.

READ MORE: A look at when and how Canada could reopen after COVID-19 closures

 

 

Said David Ibister, an animal rights activist who has protested whales and dolphins being kept at the aquarium: “They’ve had 50-plus years to show their legacy is worthy of continued donor support.

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“I think the reason they’re in this predicament is that they’re haunted by the deaths of, namely, cetaceans.”

Donations in support of the aquarium can be made on its website.