Ownership of Vancouver Aquarium transferred to new operator

Aquarium changes hands

The Vancouver Aquarium has new owners.

The popular tourist attraction and animal rescue facility announced Thursday it has signed an agreement to transfer ownership from Ocean Wise Conservation Association to Herschend Enterprises.

"The agreement ensures that Vancouver will continue to have a world-class aquarium with the financial strength to continue building on its 64-years of success as an animal care and animal rescue facility, a cherished educational venue, and one of BC’s top tourist and event destinations," reads a press release.

Ocean Wise said the transaction will safeguard the future of the aquarium and its animals, "and avoid the worst case scenario of permanent closure."

Last September, the aquarium suspended operations due to the facility's inability to draw revenue under COVID-19 restrictions. Ocean Wise predicted the aquarium would "run out of cash to operate by spring 2021."

Prior to its closure, the venue suggested it may not be able to remain open at all due to financial losses sustained as a result of the pandemic.

The Aquarium says Herschend has acquired 100% ownership of the aquarium, which will continue to be led by chief operating officer Clint Wright.

Ocean Wise will remain an independent charitable non-profit ocean conservation organization led by conservationist Lasse Gustavsson.

Herschend is a family-owned themed attractions corporation that operates theme parks including Silver Dollar City in Branson, Missouri, and Dollywood in Tennessee, as well as the Harlem Globetrotters.

It also owns two aquariums accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums.

Herschend will donate 1% of gross revenues from the Vancouver Aquarium to Ocean Wise to support research and conservation initiatives.

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