COVID-19: Vancouver Aquarium sells more than 42,000 masks in first days of Whitecaps fundraiser

Click to play video: 'Vancouver Whitecaps help Vancouver Aquarium raise funds with stylish masks' Vancouver Whitecaps help Vancouver Aquarium raise funds with stylish masks
The Vancouver Whitecaps are raising money for the embattled Vancouver Aquarium by selling masks featuring Whitecaps and aquarium images. – Apr 24, 2020

Just two days after launching a joint fundraiser to help save the Vancouver Aquarium from permanent closure during the novel coronavirus pandemic, the Vancouver Whitecaps say more than 42,000 cloth masks have been sold.

The soccer team partnered with the aquarium to sell the face masks for roughly $20 each, with all the funds going to the cash-strapped tourist attraction. The masks were designed by both organizations, featuring their logos along with various designs.

READ MORE: Vancouver Whitecaps, Aquarium team up with face mask fundraiser

The masks have been so popular that the aquarium’s gift shop website has crashed multiple times due to demand, including as recently as Sunday morning. (The issue was quickly resolved.)

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The aquarium was forced to shut its doors on March 17 due to COVID-19, and despite laying off more than half of its staff, still needs about $1 million per month to stay afloat.

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Public donations have raised over half a million dollars since the aquarium warned of its financial woes, which came before the fundraiser was launched.

Ocean Wise CEO Lasse Gustavsson says he can’t believe how much support the aquarium has seen so far, particularly from the mask sales.

READ MORE: Donors raise $625K in a week after Vancouver Aquarium warns it could go bankrupt

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“The Whitecaps CEO called me about a week ago and asked me if I wanted to do this project, and I said ‘of course,'” he said Sunday.

Gustavsson said the fundraiser is not only helping the aquarium, but also helps feed the ongoing demand for personal protective equipment.

READ MORE: Vancouver Aquarium faces bankruptcy amid coronavirus shutdown

“It allows people to protect themselves, but it also frees the N95 masks for the front-line workers,” he said.

The CEO says the aquarium is still not out of the woods despite the flood of support and is continuing to call on the provincial and federal governments for financial help.

Health officials say that non-medical masks won’t protect individuals from COVID-19, but can help stop people who have the virus from spreading it.

The masks can be purchased on either the Vancouver Aquarium or the Vancouver Whitecaps websites.

—With files from Simon Little and Linda Aylesworth

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