As much fun as having a sea lion swimming in your backyard pool sounds like, there are many reasons why it's not wise (let alone legal) to keep wildlife as pets.
For any B.C. animal lovers who've dreamed of one day having their own waddling penguin to love, the Vancouver Aquarium is now offering up the next best thing. The aquarium's new Animal Sponsorship program is enabling its fans to support their favourite VanAqua residents for a minimum of $10 each month, with 12 different species currently available to be sponsored (including ‘Zap’ the electric eel, ‘Schoona’ the rescued sea turtle, and ‘Señor Cinco,’ the aquarium's beloved blind sea lion, as well as adorable rescued sea otters like Joey).
The monthly contributions will help fund each animal's food and care, in addition to supporting Ocean Wise initiatives and helping the aquarium recover from the financial hit it suffered during the COVID-19 pandemic.
In exchange for their monthly donations, supporters will receive regular updates about their sponsored animal, information about their species and the challenges they face in the wild, opportunities to meet the experts who care for the animals each day, and a tax receipt at the end of the year.
“As a not-for-profit aquarium almost completely funded by visitors, COVID-19 has taken a huge toll on our organization,” said Lasse Gustavsson, president and CEO of Ocean Wise Conservation Association which operates the Vancouver Aquarium, in a release.
“We have been overwhelmed by the community’s support thus far, but the reality is that our financial difficulties are far from over. If you love visiting the Vancouver Aquarium, and you love our animals as much as we do, this is another way you can support us and help to ensure the Vancouver Aquarium is here for generations to come.”
In April, the Ocean Wise Conservation Association reported that it had raised over half a million dollars in just over a week since the Vancouver Aquarium announced that it might be forced to close due to the pandemic.
The aquarium reopened to the public on June 26, following a more than three-month-long closure. Despite losing virtually all revenue during the pandemic, the not-for-profit aquarium still had to find a way to cover its nearly $1 million monthly operating costs. Despite a successful fundraising campaign, supplemented by emergency funding from government and community partners, "the Vancouver Aquarium’s financial need has not gone away," the organization said in the release, adding that it's "still fighting for long-term survival."
- With files from Elana Shepert.