Throughout the pandemic, Vancouver's seen countless local businesses close their doors for the foreseeable future. But a beloved local hot-spot could be shuttering for good due to the circumstances. On Tuesday, April 16, The Vancouver Aquarium's president said that they could be closing their doors permanently within a few months. 

Ocean Wise is the organization that runs the Vancouver Aquarium and its president, Lasse Gustavsson, went on the radio show Mornings with Simi to discuss the company's financial troubles due to the public health crisis. 

Like many businesses in the city, they've recently been forces to close their doors indefinitely. Since this closure, 343 staff members have been laid off and many others have been asked to work part-time.

As of now, the aquarium is currently facing bankruptcy. 

"From a financial point of a view, this is a disaster," said Gustavsson. 

Unlike many other organizations, the company can't just switch the lights off, lock the doors, and go home. He added that the Vancouver Aquarium has 70,000 animals in the aquarium. "They need our care and they need our support," he said. 

So far, the aquarium is spending about $1 million a month to keep the animals in good health and ensure that their habitats are kept in the best possible shape.

The president explained that he has around 100 employees working in the aquarium at the moment. 

They don't normally rely on government grants, but desperate times call for desperate measures. Ocean Wise has had to reach out to the federal government, the provincial government, and the City of Vancouver for emergency funding. 

The dialogue has been ongoing and constructive with both the federal and provincial governments. "But I have yet to see any money," said Gustavsson. 

He also said that the City of Vancouver have their own financial issues, and therefore they're not in a position to help out the Vancouver Aquarium at this point. 

Under the current conditions, the Aquarium can only operate for another two or three months before they're forced to close up completely. 

If that does happen, they will have to find new homes for all their animals. "We do have rules and procedures through our membership," he shared. There is legislation in place that would take care of all the animals currently in the aquarium.

However, it wouldn't be an easy process. At this point, they're keeping their options open, including exploring financing from the banks.

Narcity has reached out to Vancouver Aquarium for comment and we will update this story when we receive a response. 

As members of the public, however, we can make a difference and donate to VanAqua to keep our favourite sea otters and dolphins happy and comfortable in their own homes. 

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