Community Rallies Around Vancouver Aquarium in a Big Way: Over $600K raised towards animal care costs of $1 million a month

Huge outpouring of support for Vancouver Aquarium since going public with funding challenges.
Over $600K raised towards animal care costs of $1 million a month.

Just over a week since the not-for-profit Vancouver Aquarium and Ocean Wise Conservation Association went public with their need for $1 million a month in funding to sustain animal care and operations during the COVID-19 closure, Ocean Wise reports that a total of $624,427 has been raised from 8,207 individuals.

However, the not-for-profit aquarium and ocean conservation organization still needs to raise more funds to care for animals, and guarantee it can reopen, given the closure could last many more months. The Vancouver Aquarium is a self-sustaining, not-for-profit organization that does not receive monthly or annual government operating grants.

“The outpouring of donations, emails, support and encouragement from the general public has been just incredible. 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”

Donations have come in from 31 countries, as far away as Finland, the Philippines and Slovakia. The average gift amount is $74, with the smallest gift being $10, and the largest gift being $5,000. People who were already part of the Vancouver Aquarium community have been donating, but the organization has seen many new donors come forward, effectively doubling their donor base. In addition, 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.

Ocean Wise has also had productive talks with the Provincial Government. “Every donation we have received is a vote of support for the Vancouver Aquarium and demonstrates to all levels of government the importance of the Vancouver Aquarium to the Canadian public” added Gustavsson.

Since closing to the public on March 17, and losing almost all revenues, the Vancouver Aquarium has implemented an extensive list of cost cutting measures. These include laying off 60% of staff, suspending Marine Mammal Rescue Centre operations, reducing staff hours where it does not impact animal care, suspending all building maintenance, cancelling capital renovations, reducing utility consumption by 60%, cutting travel including field research and conservation in the Arctic, and voluntary pay cuts among senior executives. These cost cutting measures have brought monthly animal care, facility and operation expenses down dramatically, to approximately $1 million per month.

Added Gustavsson: “Stay tuned for some exciting partnerships and new ways to engage with us. Although you can’t visit us in person at the moment, we will be continuing to engage with our communities including teachers, youth, and ocean lovers around the world.”

Support the Vancouver Aquarium and Ocean Wise during this critical time.
To find out how, go to


About the Vancouver Aquarium
Since opening in 1956, the Vancouver Aquarium has connected more than 40 million people from around the world to our oceans and inspired them to take action to address key threats. Located in Stanley Park, the Vancouver Aquarium is home to thousands of incredible ocean species, including rescued seals, sea lions and otters. It’s also Ocean Wise headquarters, where our scientists, educators and conservation experts do much of their work.

About Ocean Wise® Conservation Association
Ocean Wise is a conservation organization on a mission to protect and restore the world’s oceans. Focussed on education, research and direct-action conservation, Ocean Wises equips and inspires youth, citizens, businesses and governments to take action through initiatives like Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup, Ocean Wise Sustainable Seafood Program, the Marine Mammal Rescue Program and Be Plastic Wise. Ocean Wise was born out of the Vancouver Aquarium’s 60-year commitment to marine ecosystems and is headquartered at the Vancouver Aquarium in Vancouver’s Stanley Park. Learn more at

Media Contact

Amber Sessions
Ocean Wise