Annalisa Zaniol toils away in the bowels of the Vancouver Aquarium, never asking for any glory, but some of her colleagues might be surprised to know just how much power she has: the power of the credit card.

She’s somewhat of a professional shopper. As purchasing manager at the Vancouver Aquarium, she’s in charge of buying, well, pretty much anything anyone needs to run this place – orders are as diverse as 45 pounds (20 kilograms) of prime rib for food services or an order of fruit flies for the frogs to eat. Here’s hoping she never mixes up those orders.

Vancouver Aquarium

From food to scratch pads and everything in between.

Annalisa is passionate about purchasing. She loves working with different departments – from carpentry to content development – and sourcing out random items. She adds: “It’s never the same. When Wally (the sea otter) was first rescued, we had to drop everything and source geoduck for him to eat.”

Annalisa says suppliers enjoy working with the Aquarium too and the projects are diverse. Right now, someone is working on making a sea otter scratch pad. Who knew?

The purchasing team sources items that are local and green whenever possible. Under Annalisa’s watch, the Aquarium made a big push for compostable servingware in the cafe. She gets it from Delta, even though it’s more expensive than getting it abroad.

Green sourcing at the Vancouver Aquarium

Working with Green suppliers is a top priority.

When Annalisa gets excited at the sight of a brush pad she purchased being used to clean an exhibit, you really get a sense that the small things are just as important as the big things to her.

“I just want everything to be perfect,” she notes.

Written by Karen Horak, writer-editor, content and digital experience at the Vancouver Aquarium.

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