Kavna, believed to be the oldest beluga whale at any North American aquarium and the inspiration for a famous children's song, has died at the age of 46.
The Vancouver Aquarium issued a statement saying "Beluga whales in the wild are believed to live to about 25 to 30 years old. At approximately 46 years old, Kavna was considered to be at the end of her life, and had lived a long and healthy life in the care of the Aquarium’s marine mammal care team. The Aquarium’s staff and volunteers, especially its marine mammal care team who had been caring for Kavna since 1975, are saddened by this loss but share in the many fond memories experienced with her over the past 37 years."
The Province quotes aquarium officials saying, “Over the past few weeks, Kavna had been displaying inconsistent behaviour.” The staff veterinarian was performing a number of tests including blood work to try to figure out what was wrong, when the whale died. A full necropsy will now be performed to determine the cause of death.
The Vancouver Sun says Kavna was brought to the aquarium from Churchill, Manitoba in 1976 and gave birth to a calf named Tuaq a year later. But Tuaq only lived 16 weeks before dying of an infection.
Kavna was the inspiration behind one of Canadian children's singer Raffi’s biggest hits “Baby Beluga.” He says he wrote the song after briefly meeting the beluga at the aquarium in 1979 and after hearing the news about her death, the singer went on Twitter to offer his condolences. Raffi wrote, "while we'll miss her, we can be grateful for all the joy she gave and for the beloved song she so beautifully inspired."
Children's singer Raffi's tweet after the death of Kavna, Beluga Whale