Beluga whale died of cancer: Vancouver Aquarium
Christine Tam , CTV British Columbia
Published Tuesday, August 7, 2012 11:26AM PDT
Last Updated Tuesday, August 7, 2012 7:38PM PDT
Kavna, the 46-year-old beluga whale who died at the Vancouver Aquarium Monday, likely had cancer, according to necropsy results.
“Preliminary necropsy results showed Kavna had lesions consistent with cancer, although an infectious cause is still a small possibility,” Vancouver Aquarium spokesperson Charlene Chiang said in a release.
The necropsy showed Kavna had widespread lesions in her reproductive tract and other tissues. The whale was being treated for a reproductive disorder when she died, the release said.
The beloved beluga inspired the iconic children’s song “Baby Beluga” by Canadian singer Raffi after his brief encounter with the whale in 1979.
“Kavna will be missed by all who knew her. LOVED meeting her in '79 [sic], the magnificent 16 yr [sic] old beluga whale who inspired Baby Beluga,” Raffi tweeted.
Anthony Price, a tourist who witnessed Kavna’s death, said the whale looked ill and was floating on her side and upside down in a secluded pool while two other belugas performed in a whale show around 3 p.m.
“The two whales repeatedly swam to the barrier between the pools where the other whale was kept,” Price said in a blog post.
“She swam toward the barrier and began hitting her face against it. I heard a trainer calling for help and saw others rushing to the area. When they arrived to the smaller pool, they jumped in to help. Immediately, other employees started roping off the area and asking people to move toward the penguin show,” he wrote.
Price said trainers surrounded Kavna and turned her upright as they attended to her. She died shortly after.
Chiang said a veterinarian had been carrying out bloodwork and other tests over the past few weeks on the whale after she began showing inconsistent behaviour.
Chiang added beluga whales in the wild live about 25 to 30 years and that Kavna was considered to be at the end of her life.
Kavna had charmed visitors at the aquarium since 1975.