Vancouver Aquarium has called Stanley Park home since 1951. This Vancouver attraction has seen many expansions and additions over the years, making it one of the five largest aquariums in North America. What sets Vancouver Aquarium apart from many others is that it’s a self-supporting, non-profit organization with a heavy focus on research, rehabilitation and conservation.
When the aquarium first opened in the 1950s, it was just 9,000 square feet. Today it has grown to over 100,000 square feet, with a further renovation and expansion currently underway. Vancouver Aquarium’s habitats and displays are incredibly well taken care of and maintained, giving the animals, birds, insects, reptiles and marine life the best care available to them.
Daisy, a rescued and rehabilitated porpoise, calls the aquarium home — Photo courtesy of Vancouver Aquarium
Inside the aquarium, you'll find everything from otters and penguins to snakes, frogs, sloths, fish, monkeys, cetaceans and plenty more species! The displays are intricate and emulate (as much as possible) - what those species would find in their natural habitat.
Vancouver Aquarium’s largest mammals are beluga whales and dolphins; you won’t find any orcas here. They do not capture wild cetaceans for display, and have not done so for almost 25 years. The last dolphin collected was in 1971, and the last cetacean of any kind, a beluga whale (Aurora), was collected in 1990. They only house those that are deemed non-releasable by the appropriate government authorities.
The aquarium has a number of programs that aim both to help wild species and to educate the public. One of those programs is the Marine Mammal Rescue program. The primary goal of this program is for a healthy release back to the wild. However, that’s not always possible, so they will continue to provide a safe and healthy home for those animals.
A fairly new rescued animal to the aquarium is Walter, a sea otter. Walter was blinded by a shotgun blast near Tofino and has received life-saving treatments and rehabilitation since January 2014. Walter wouldn’t be able to forage with his injuries, nor protect himself from predators, so the Vancouver Aquarium provides a safe and welcome home for Walter.
Jelly invasion! — Photo courtesy of Natasha John
While Walter will call the aquarium home, Levi, a rescued porpoise, had a very brief stay with the aquarium. Levi had a pretty bad parasite infection when he was found, and the aquarium nursed this guy back to health. He has been successfully released back into the wild. This is a huge feat for both Levi and the aquarium!
A trip to Vancouver Aquarium is fun for all ages! The jellyfish display is incredibly fascinating, while a walk through the Amazon will take away any remaining winter blues. Jacques Cousteau said that British Columbia had some of the best scuba diving he had seen in the world, and you can catch a glimpse of the various coastal regions without having to get a drop of water on you.
Located in Stanley Park, Vancouver Aquarium is a cinch to get to by car, bus or Seawall.