After 17 months of partial or complete closures, Vancouver Aquarium reopens

With the snip of a ribbon, the Vancouver Aquarium officially opened to the public Monday morning after struggling to stay afloat for 17 months due to severe financial hardship caused by COVID-19.

“[This is] a day where we can invite everyone back to the wonders of the aquatic world. It’s really been way too long,” said Clint Wright, the aquarium’s executive director.

The aquarium is welcoming back guests with a 4D theatre and a revamped marine mammal rescue centre exhibit that handles up to 150 marine animals per year including seals, fur seals, sea lions, and otters.

The aquarium says visitors will have an opportunity to learn about the rescue stories of several seals and sea lions and the human-caused issues they face in the wild. 

An interactive 4D theatre featuring a new film called Octopus explores the earth’s oceans and the eight-limbed invertebrates, with special effects such as sound, smell and touch. 

The future of Vancouver’s 65-year-old aquarium was assured when it was acquired by Herschend Enterprises which runs 25 properties in eight U.S. states focusing on family entertainment. 

“It’s been a long 17 months of closure, partial openings, a bit earlier this year, it really looked bleak for all of us, said Wright as he went on to thank the new investors and staff. 

Ocean Wise- a globally focused conservation organization, which had been running the aquarium since 2017, led the initiative to save the aquarium by allocating 100 per cent ownership to Herschend Enterprises. 

“Today’s a day of celebration and we want to make sure that while respecting the past, the history, we continue that celebration for the next millennia to come,” said Eric Rose, executive director of Herschend Family Entertainment. 

Chief Janice George of the Squamish Nation cuts the ribbon to mark the official reopening of the Vancouver Aquarium on Monday, Aug. 16.

With nearly 65,000 creatures available for observation, the aquarium says it is providing a new online guest reservation system to ensure COVID-19 protocols and the safety of its guests.

“This new reservation tool will make it easy for our guests to schedule their visits and ensure there is adequate capacity available,” said Wright.

Masks are recommended for all people 12 years of age and older who are not fully vaccinated. 

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