The City of Valencia has selected the Vancouver Aquarium to operate and manage L’Oceanogràfic, the largest aquatic life park in Europe.
The Vancouver Aquarium will manage the Spanish aquarium through its leadership and involvement with Avanqua, a newly incorporated consortium that consists of two partners: KET, a Spanish company that oversaw the construction and early operation of L’Oceanogràfic, as well as Ominum Iberco SA, a Spanish water company.
The Vancouver Aquarium confirmed last month it was bidding to operate the Spanish aquarium, which is approximately five times larger than the Vancouver facility in Stanley Park.
L’Oceanogràfic houses 45,000 aquatic animals, including dolphins and beluga whales, within 42 million litres of water and attracts an attendance of 1.3 million people on an annual basis. In contrast, the Vancouver Aquarium has about 9.5 million litres of water and sees just over one million visitors every year.
“Participation in the world-class management team of Avanqua enables Vancouver Aquarium Marine Science Centre to engage an additional 1.3 million people a year with the issues facing the world’s oceans,” said Dr. John Nightingale, president and CEO of Vancouver Aquarium Marine Science Centre, in a statement.
“This connection will further advance the Aquarium’s conservation, research and education mandate and we’re looking forward to sharing our best practices in animal care, success in marine mammal rescue, award-winning conservation programming and groundbreaking research at Oceanografic.”
The contract of the operations agreement has yet to be finalized, but the contract term will last for 15 years with an option to renew for a further 15 years. The Vancouver Aquarium will receive a financial return for its work, which will go towards Canadian conservation, research and education efforts.
Over the coming weeks, inspections will be made of L’Oceanogràfic’s facilities, animal life support systems and current animal care practices. The Vancouver Aquarium could assume management of L’Oceanogràfic as early as late spring.
Municipal government officials from Valencia first approached the Vancouver Aquarium in 2012 with a surprise visit to Vancouver.
Following the visit, the Spanish team determined that its vision for L’Oceanogràfic aligned with the Vancouver Aquarium, especially on areas around research and conservation work and the mixture of programs the Aquarium has founded and operates.
After a tour and detailed discussions, Valencia officials offered the Vancouver Aquarium an opportunity to be a part of L’Oceanogràfic’s future. Formal calls for proposals from the Valencian government followed and the Vancouver bid proposal was delivered in December 2014.