Ocean Wise Conservation Association reports that it has 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 COVID-19 pandemic.
Last week, Lasse Gustavsson, Chief Executive Officer at the Vancouver Aquarium, told Vancouver Is Awesome in a phone call that it may only be a matter of months before the beloved aquarium is shut down.
Now, Ocean Wise states that a total of $624,427 has been raised from 8,207 individuals.
“The outpouring of donations, emails, support and encouragement from the general public has been justincredible. We are so grateful.” said Lasse Gustavsson, president and CEO of Ocean Wise Conservation Association. “This is a clear message from the public that the Vancouver Aquarium is a highly valued community, environmental, and educational institution that must continue for generations to come.”
Gustavsson continued: “But we are not out of danger yet. Even after extensive cost cutting, our expenses to care for the animals, and to just keep the water circulating in our building, are over $1 million a month. Our message is simple – please continue to support the Vancouver Aquarium and Ocean Wise. We need you now more than ever before. There are lots of ways to help and you can find the way that is right for you at VanAqua.org/SaveVA.”
According to a release, donations have come in from 31 countries around the world, including Finland, the Philippines and Slovakia. It notes that the average gift amount is $74, with the smallest gift being $10, and the largest gift being $5,000. And while many of the donations were from people who were already part of the Vancouver Aquarium community have been donating, the organization states that many new donors come forward. In addition, they note that orders have been rolling into the Vancouver Aquarium’s Online Gift Shop, and local companies and partners have been calling to find out how they can help.
Gustavsson adds that each donation demonstrates the value of the Vancouver Aquarium to the public to all levels of government.
Home to 70,000 animals, the Vancouver Aquarium is the oldest and largest aquarium in Canada, first opening in 1956.
The iconic Vancouver facility closed to the public on March 17. On March 31, it laid off 345 employees, which amounts to 60% of its workforce.
From rescued sea lions to otters, seals to jellies, fish to birds - basic animal care and facility costs at the Vancouver Aquarium exceed $1 million dollars each month. However, the facility reports that revenue has dropped from approximately $3 million to almost zero.
Gustavsson notes that there are some new partnerships in the works and that there will be new ways for the public to engage with the Aquarium.
To find out more information about the "Help Save the Vancouver Aquarium" project, visit HERE.