WHILE many businesses are being put into hibernation, due to COVID-19 Irukandji Shark and Ray Centre is facing a devastating situation.
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After financing and investing in new premises, they find themselves unable to open.
Without help this business could be one of Port Stephens first tourism attractions to close its doors for good.
Ticket sales fund the upkeep and care of the animals at the centre.
It is not a case of this business can sit it out and wait for months to reopen and rehire staff.
Animals need to be fed, the tanks need cleaning and the water still needs to be filtered.
This business can’t sit it out and wait for the government stimulus package.
The animals need to be fed daily, today the centre launched a Go Fund Me appeal to help feed the animals and pay their electricity bill.
Irukandji Shark & Ray Encounters has been closed for three weeks for the move into their new facility.
The move has been 5 years planning and all our money building it.
A desperate and devastated Lia Pereira told News Of The Area, “Now with all our animals safely moved and the last finishing touches being completed we were due to open in 5 days, the COVID-19 Virus shutdowns has placed Irukandji into survival mode.
With 253 animals, including many endangered or vulnerable species, Irukandji is asking the community for help to keep them alive and healthy during this unimaginable Pandemic.
“We normally have regular school tours which have been cancelled, our overseas tourists will not be visiting and our grand opening simply won’t be happening either, and as a non essential service we can’t open the doors at all.
“This leaves us with no income, the same ongoing costs, savings ploughed into building a world class facility that nobody can visit,” she said.
Irukandji is a small family owned business that has grown without government funding and the owners are shattered at the thought of losing everything before they open in the new location which was also going to serve as an Tourist Information Centre.
The team at Irukandji are also the founders of Sea Shelter. They take injured animals to Sydney, organise clean-ups of mangroves and marinas rehabilitate and release animals including sea snakes, and rays.
Lia fears that given the desperate nature of their situation that rescued wildlife may also suffer.
The team is hopeful that with community support they will be able to open one day and continue their important conservation work for the future of our oceans.
You can donate on the Irukandji Centres Go Fund Me Page to save these animals.
By Marian SAMPSON