Aurora, the last beluga whale at Vancouver Aquarium has died.
Vancouver Aquarium has confirmed that the 30-year-old whale passed on Friday, after having been sick for almost two weeks with symptoms including abdominal cramping, loss of appetite and lethargy.
Aurora’s death comes just 9 days after that of her calf Qila, the first beluga whale to be born and raised in a Canadian aquarium. Qila died on November 16 from similar symptoms.
“The past two weeks have been extremely difficult and today’s loss has left a hole in our hearts,” Vancouver Aquarium said in a statement. “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.”
The Aquarium will continue to investigate the cause of Qila and Aurora’s sudden illness and will perform a necropsy on Saturday to help determine what caused their deaths.
The Vancouver Aquarium’s marine mammal care team, alongside a host of veterinary specialists, pathologists, and marine biologists from around-the-world, have been working tirelessly to try and treat Aurora. Many of those involved were there when she passed on Friday.
“After a determined around-the-clock effort by animal care staff and the veterinary team, she slipped away this evening surrounded by the people who loved her, some whom have cared for her since she first arrived in 1990.” the Aquarium confirmed. “To our team, Aurora was a part of our family and her loss is absolutely heartbreaking.”
Named after the Aurora Borealis, Aurora won hearts and inspired generations of visitors, employees and volunteers. Along with the other belugas at the Aquarium, including her daughter Qila, Aurora taught millions about her incredible species and its rapidly changing ecosystem in the wild.
The whales have contributed to studies on their physiology, hearing and acoustic abilities; provided baseline data for studies in the wild; and helped scientists discover unique vocalizations between beluga whale mothers and calves, called contact calls. This groundbreaking research began at Vancouver Aquarium in 2002; Aurora and Qila contributed to those early studies.