Vancouver Aquarium rescue centre broken into after beluga whale dies

Nov 19 2016, 5:59 am

The Vancouver Aquarium’s Marine Mammal Rescue Centre has been broken into, after one of the Aquarium’s resident beluga whales died and another fell ill.

Qila, who was born in captivity, tragically died on Wednesday of unknown causes after 21 years at the Vancouver Aquarium.

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Since then, her mother Aurora, also at the Aquarium, has fallen inexplicably ill and is being cared for by the Marine Mammal team.

Vancouver Police Sgt. Brian Montague told Daily Hive police received a call about the overnight break-in at the rescue centre just after 8 am on Friday.

Lindsaye Akhurst, manager of the centre, said it was a very odd break-in. Clothes and shoes had been strewn around, and one pool containing six seals had been drained.

“We’re keeping a close eye on those seals,” Akhurst told Daily Hive. “It’s extremely disturbing to know someone was able to get into our facility and do what they did.”

“What else is really concerning is that we don’t know what else they did.”

As a result said Akhurst, staff have had to examine every single one of the 42 harbour seals currently being rehabilitated at the centre.

“These are wild animals so we try to handle them as little as possible. So this was very stressful for them – not only for them, but our staff as well.”

A file photo of a harbour seal in the Vancouver Aquarium's Marine Mammal Rescue Centre (Vancouver Aquarium)

A file photo of a harbour seal in the Vancouver Aquarium’s Marine Mammal Rescue Centre (Vancouver Aquarium)

Aurora gravely ill too

Qila was the first beluga whale to be born and raised in a Canadian aquarium, on July 23, 1995, and contributed to many early studies of their physiology.

Aurora, the Aquarium’s last remaining beluga whale on site, has been displaying similar symptoms to those Qila showed before her death.

In an update, the Aquarium said veterinarians, pathologists, technicians, and marine biologists from across North America had come to Aurora’s aid.

However, her carers had not been able to establish what was wrong and Aurora remains in a hospital-like environment in the Aquarium’s medical pool.

Jenni SheppardJenni Sheppard

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