Vancouver Aquarium says Qila – the first-ever beluga to be born in a Canadian aquarium – has died.
A release by the aquarium says they share her “sudden loss” with heavy hearts.
“Our marine mammal care team, led by Dr. Martin Haulena and Brian Sheehan, have cared for Qila over the past 21 years. There have been days when they’ve spent more time with our beluga whales than they have with their own children, and we are grateful for their incredible leadership, professionalism and care for our marine mammals,” reads part of their statement.
— Vancouver Aquarium (@vanaqua) November 16, 2016
Qila was born on July 23, 1995.
Belugas are said to live up to 50 years.
Re-igniting the debate
Rebeka Breder is an animal law lawyer who compares life for the whales at the aquarium to you or I living in a bathtub.
“You look at the tank that the beluga was swimming around, everyday, constantly, and there’s no way when you compare to what they normally swim in in the wild, it’s probably even smaller than a bathtub.”
Three other belugas have died at the aquarium; Tiqa in 2011, Nala in 2010, and Tuvaq in 2005.
And Breder is not alone, Errol Povah a crew-member with the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, says captivity “should’ve ended a long time ago.”
He says he was shocked to hear the news but not surprised given the “very nature of captivity.”
CKNW has yet to hear on the record from staff there but we’ve been told Quila died earlier this morning, no explanation yet has been given.
With files from Jeremy Lye