Aurora, the final Beluga whale at the Vancouver Aquarium, has died after battling two weeks of illness.
Aurora was suffering from abdominal discomfort, cramping and nausea following the death of her daughter Qila two weeks ago.
Just hours before Aurora died, veterinarian Dr. Martin Haulena said Aurora was showing signs of recovery.
Despite the new treatment, the 29-year-old beluga passed away.
— Vancouver Aquarium (@vanaqua) November 26, 2016
In a statement, the Vancouver Aquarium say she slipped away surrounded by the people who loved her, some who have cared for her since she first arrived in 1990.
“The past two weeks have been extremely difficult and today’s loss has left a hole in our hearts. On behalf of our team of 1,500 staff and volunteers, we’d like to thank everyone who has reached out to us with warm messages of support and offers of help. You’ve shared countless stories of how Aurora and Qila have impacted you and your family and we’re grateful to everyone who has shared those connections with us.”
They say they will continue to investigate the cause or causes of Qila and Aurora’s sudden illness.
Aurora’s daughter Qila was the first beluga whale to be born in a Canadian aquarium, in 1995.
Dr. Haulena will conduct a necropsy on Aurora this Saturday.
Messages of support
Although the death of Qila and Aurora has re-ignited the debate of captivity, many were quick to share their condolences on social media.
@vanaqua deepest condolences on the loss of the lovely member of your family ~ she always brought a smile to my face. Ty for all you do <3— megeebee (@naughtymgn) November 26, 2016
@vanaqua My thoughts are with the team that worked so hard to keep Aurora strong and alive for so long. It is a great loss to the aquarium.— Carlo (@omgitzcarlo) November 26, 2016
A controversial topic
Meanwhile, a sealife activist group is calling for Vancouver Aquarium to cease the importation of the beluga whales after a mother and daughter passed away within weeks of each other.
‘No Whales in Captivity’ president, Annelise Sorg, says Vancouver Aquarium should empty their beluga whale tank now that Aurora and Qila have passed away.
Annelise says their deaths should act as a learning curve to the aquarium.
“It’s about cruelty and the people who try to justify it because they claim that there’s a scientific value to keeping whales in captivity, there’s been no proof of that at all.”
She says the aquarium shouldn’t replace the whales and should empty the tank.
“Whales and dolphins do not belong in captivity. It is terribly cruel to keep them, to capture them, to breed them. We are definitely looking at the aquarium to stop the importation of more beluga whales.”
The necropsy will help determine why Aurora died.
With files from Jon Hall and Niamh Anderson