News is going from bad to worse at the Vancouver Aquarium, after the most recent death of one of its beluga whales.
Now, just a day after Qila suddenly died, her mother – and the only other belgua currently living at the aquarium – is showing the same deterioration in health.
An John Nightengale, Aquarium president,s ays they still don’t know what caused Qila’s death.
“What we know is that yesterday’s necropsy with Qila did not provide any definitive clear outcomes,” he said.
Head veterinarian, Dr. Martin Haulena, says staff are “shell shocked.”
“I am incredibly concerned because this was so unexpected,” he said. “These guys are our family and when you lose one and don’t know why, it’s not very much fun.”
Haulena says Aurora is showing similar symptoms like abdominal discomfort, nausea, inflammatory signs in the blood, and a refusal to eat or interact.
The Vancouver Aquarium’s captive cetacean program has drawn plenty of fire in recent years, with activists calling for an end to it entirely.
In 2014, the Vancouver Park Board voted to ban the breeding of captive cetaceans at the facility, but the move sputtered after the NPA captured a majority of Park Board seats in the 2014 civic election.
The Aquarium’s breeding program has had mixed success.
Two of Aurora’s other calves have died in just over a decade: Three-year-old Tuvaq, who died in 2005, and Nala who died of respiratory failure at just a year old in 2009.
Qila had a calf named Tiqa in 2008, the first third-generation beluga to be born at the Aquarium, but it died of an infection three years later.
Last year her father Nanuq, on loan to SeaWorld Orlando, died of a jaw infection.
While Aurora is the last beluga currently living at the Aquarium, the facility owns several other belugas on “loan” to North American aquariums. They include Grayson and Qinu, on loan to the Georgia Aquarium; Allua, on loan to SeaWorld San Diego; and Imaq at SeaWorld Texas.
The Aquarium says its cetaceans on loan are all at accredited facilities “that are required to have the highest standards of care for their marine mammals.” It says it plans to bring the animals back to Vancouver once it completes an expansion.