Behind the scenes at Long Beach's Aquarium of the Pacific during COVID-19

LONG BEACH, Calif. (KABC) -- The Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach, California was forced to close to the public due to Covid-19 but a skeleton staff is still working hard taking care of the all the animals who call the aquarium home.

"The animals don't take a vacation," said president and CEO of the aquarium Dr. Jerry Schubel. "They have to be fed and cared for. The water quality has to be maintained. The life support systems have to be maintained."

At any given time, 20 to 25 staff members are on-site at the 300,000 square-foot facility in downtown Long Beach. The aquarium said employees are practicing social distancing on the job.

"They work in teams, and we stage those teams so that they're not on site all in the same area at the same time," Dr. Schubel said.

Last year, 1.6 million people visited the Aquarium of the Pacific. Dr. Schubel said the aquarium sees 4,500 visitors per day during this time of year, so the closure is having a substantial impact.

"The virus is taking a big toll on us financially because 75% of our operating budget comes from admissions and from admission-related expenditures," he said.

According to Dr. Schubel, the aquarium is working with the city to find financial support during the closure.

If the public wants to help, he recommends staying engaged through the aquarium's Online Academy. The aquarium is producing live and on-demand content, including educational programming, puppet shows and 24/7 livestreams of exhibits, available on their website and YouTube channel.

"When people are allowed to go back out, they will want to go to museums, aquariums, science centers and zoos to rebuild some of that social capital that came unraveled during the crisis," Dr. Schubel said.

To check out the Aquarium of the Pacific's Online Academy, visit the website.

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