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Whitecaps sell face masks to help save Vancouver Aquarium

Polyester masks are sold for $19.99 and $17.99
Vancouver Whitecaps CEO Mark Pannes wears a polyester face mask that his team is selling with proceeds going to help save the Vancouver Aquarium | Vancouver Whitecaps

The Vancouver Whitecaps are teaming up with the Vancouver Aquarium to sell face masks with all proceeds going toward saving the nearly 64-year-old aquatic institution that cares for about 70,000 animals.

The aquarium's executives say that their facility has lost millions of dollars since the COVID-19 pandemic struck, prompting the B.C. government to ban gatherings larger than 49. That, in turn, forced the aquarium to close.

Vancouver Aquarium CEO Lasse Gustavsson said that his organization must spend about $1 million per month to feed the animals and keep water circulating, and that if things do not change, the aquarium could go bankrupt

The Whitecaps' solution is to sell what they are calling polyester face masks that are comfortable, washable, breathable and are made in Vancouver. The masks come in four designs. Adult masks are on sale for $19.99, while kid's masks for $17.99, plus tax and shipping.

"Our full attention and focus right now is on helping save the aquarium," said Whitecaps CEO Mark Pannes on a Zoom call. "It's such an important initiative."

Since the aquarium announced its financial struggles, it has said in media releases that it has raised more than $620,000 from more than 8,200 donors.

"This is a super-creative initiative from the Whitecaps and as I've said, we're grateful," said Gustavsson on a Zoom call.

This help, however, may not be enough. 

Gustavsson said that he is also "optimistic that we will receive some support from the governments, both provincial and federal."

The animals so far are safe.

"They are very well taken care of," he said. "We have about 100 people working with the animals in very clearly separated shifts. Nobody of our staff has so far caught the virus. Everybody is safe."

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