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The Vancouver Aquarium is home to thousands of incredible ocean species and amazing aquatic life. Since opening in 1956, the Vancouver Aquarium has connected more than 40 million people from around the world to our oceans and all the wonders within them.
The Vancouver Aquarium was formed as the Vancouver Public Aquarium Association in 1951. We were officially Canada's first public aquarium and opened on June 15, 1956. Today, there are approximately 48 aquariums in North America, only a few of which are in Canada. Worldwide, the number of aquariums has grown to more than 200.
The founding principles of the Vancouver Aquarium have been to attain the highest possible standard of animal care within a top-notch facility that provides an informative and educational guest experience. In 1975, we became the first aquarium accredited by the American Zoo and Aquarium Association (AZA). In 1987, we were also accredited by the Canadian Association of Zoos and Aquariums (CAZA) and were designated Canada's Pacific National Aquarium by the Canadian Federal Government. In 2016 the Vancouver Aquarium was among the first in the world to achieve Humane Certification from American Humane.
The Vancouver Aquarium is internationally recognized for display and interpretation excellence, and was the first facility to incorporate professional naturalists and interpretive specialists into galleries to explain animal behaviors. We are internationally recognized for our successful Marine Mammal Rescue Program. Innovative programming and superlative animal care have seen the Aquarium held in high esteem year after year.
In 2017, the Ocean Wise Conservation Association (Ocean Wise) was created as a new global non-profit ocean conservation organization focused on protecting and restoring our world’s oceans. In the spring of 2021, after an incredibly difficult year due to COVID-19, Ocean Wise transferred ownership of the Aquarium to a new operator, Herschend Enterprises. Ocean Wise will continue as an independent charitable non-profit. Its important work will continue to be supported by the Vancouver Aquarium through a commitment by Herschend to make an annual donation of 1% of gross profits towards Ocean Wise’s conservation and education programs.
We voluntarily undergo regular accreditation inspections by professional associations. The accreditation process is an independent verification that we meet or exceed professionally established standards of animal care, education, conservation and research.
Our buildings and operations have an impact on the environment and the animals we work to protect whether it be through the use of energy, the generation of waste, or the buying of goods. In our efforts to mitigate that impact, we have become a leader in environmental sustainability practices.