The Vancouver Aquarium has announced it is pausing all public programming and closing its doors to the public as of Sept. 8 in order to transition to a new model of operation.
In a release Monday, the organization said this has been one of the most financially challenging times in its history, including an almost 80 per cent decline in ticket sales due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The animals who live at the aquarium will continue to be cared for by a team of 75 staff.
More than 200 full-time, part-time and casual staff will be laid off.
Other programs, such as Ocean Wise Research, Ocean Wise Education, Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup, Arctic programs, Ocean Wise Seafood, Marine Mammal Rescue, and others – will continue without interruption.
The focus going forward will be to transition to a new model that is both financially viable and also accelerates ocean conservation programs.
“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, ” Christian Baxter, board chair of Ocean Wise, said in a release.
“Staff reductions were an incredibly difficult decision and one we truly hoped to avoid.”
The aquarium was closed to the public for three months during the height of the coronavirus pandemic. When it opened in June, visitor restrictions meant the facility was not able to cover operating costs, which the organization says exceed $1 million a month.
“Under these difficult circumstances, transforming the aquarium is the most responsible thing we can do,” Lasse Gustavsson, president and CEO of Ocean Wise said in a release.
The Vancouver Aquarium was founded in 1956.