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Vancouver Aquarium to close to public indefinitely due to COVID-19 pandemic

The closure will go into effect Sept. 8
Photo: Luke McAdam, Ocean Wise

The Vancouver Aquarium, the oldest and largest aquarium in Canada, which is home to 70,000 species, has announced an indefinite closure starting Sept. 8.

Ocean Wise Conservation Association, which operates the aquarium, broke the news to the public Monday morning.

It said the aquarium will “temporarily pause public programming” to "focus on transforming" the operation with a new business model that addresses the financial fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Ocean Wise said COVID-19 is to blame for an almost 80 per cent decline in ticket sales at the facility, which has had to limit the number of visitors on its premises as a result of the pandemic.

The non-profit aquarium was losing more than $1 million per month, said Ocean Wise CEO Lasse Gustavsson.

"The aquarium [will] temporarily pause public programming and focus on to a new model that is financially sustainable in the long-term and accelerates our mission of ocean conservation," Gustavsson said.

“During this time, animals at the aquarium will continue to receive world-class care from a team of 75 specialized staff, including biologists, trainers, and an on-site veterinary team. This temporary pause, although not what we would ever have hoped for, is a critical moment in our history."

More than 200 people are expected to lose their jobs from the closure.