San Francisco’s Aquarium of the Bay reopens after pandemic shutdown

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SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) — San Francisco’s Aquarium of the Bay at Pier 39 reopened Monday after being closed for 27 weeks, the longest closure in the aquarium’s 25-year history.

“It was quite difficult,” President and CEO George Jacob said Monday morning. “As you know, we don’t get any funding from the state or the city. And we have running overheads because of the live animals. And for a small aquarium to be shut for nearly seven months, it’s very difficult to survive that. But we were fortunate to get some emergency funding. We also got some SBA loan. So combination of some of those factors allowed us to survive. And I hope that the worst is behind us.”

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The aquarium is only allowed to welcome in 25% of its normal capacity. A time slot ticketed system will allow the staff to monitor how many people are inside. Visitors need to book their tickets online or call ahead before they go. The demand to see the aquarium appears to be very high.

“We are pretty much booked solid. We’ve had thousands of phone calls over the weekend. We’ve had close to 2000 emails. So, these are very large numbers,” Jacob said.

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He believes that is an indication that people are anxious to get out of their homes.

“It shows how the quarantine has impacted people continuously being indoors, and with the school not open or open remotely. There has been that expectation to go out and learn in an environment which is different from sitting at home and looking at a computer screen,” he said.

The staff says it feels great to provide this opportunity to people.

“We hold 24,000 animals in our 750,000 gallon saltwater tanks, we hold 186 species. Most of them are from the Bay. And our mandate is the conservation and protection. So it feels good,” Jacob said.

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