SAN FRANCISCO - A San Francisco aquarium is asking to reopen its doors as it faces mounting debts because of COVID-19. The Aquarium of the Bay is in a bind because they can't simply close the doors and walk away just because visitors aren't allowed in.
The aquarium has more than 24,000 animals of 186 different species that require round the clock care. Now they're asking the city and the public to help them.
Entering the Aquarium of the Bay is like walking into an underwater world. The aquarium at San Francisco's Pier 39 was forced to close its doors four months ago.
"We need our life support systems, we need our divers, we need our veterinarians we need the staff that supports and feeds the animals," said George Jacob, president of the Aquarium of the Bay.
The aquarium finds itself in a similar circumstance to zoos and children's museums around the bay and across the country, with mounting costs, and no revenue.
"In the last 16-17 weeks of shutdown we've lost over $4.5 million. And for a small non-profit organization that is a very large sum of money," said Jacob.
The aquarium was ready to reopen it's doors the last week of June, only to have reopenings delayed by the city leaders. Now, they're asking to be allowed to reopen their doors, following strict safety guidelines.
"We would like the city to look at it like an essential service," said Jacob. "Not just the Aquarium of the Bay, but the San Francisco Zoo and perhaps the Steinhart Aquarium."
As for what the public can do, the aquarium is asking would be visitors to visit them online, and buy merchandise, which will help them financially. Once they are reopen, they're aware that tourism will take time to return. They're asking locals and Northern Californians to visit them and other world class tourist destinations right in their own back yards.
"The aquarium is situated in picturesque Pier 39, Fisherman's Wharf area where there's more than enough activity for them to engage themselves for the entire day," said Jacob.
The Aquarium of the Bay has also set up a Gofundme with the goal of raising $500,000. So far that account has only raised a little more than $7,000.