Aurora, a beluga whale kept captive at the Vancouver Acquarium in Canada since 1990 has died just days after her calf passed away suddenly.
The Vancouver Parks Board has said that the deaths are a turning point and that it is time to take stock on any future decision to continue to keep whales at the facility.
Aurora’s death took place shortly after her calf, Qila – the first beluga whale to be born in captivity in Canada, died earlier in the week at the age of 21.
Qila and her mother were from the Western Hudson Bay population of wild beluga whales but Qila was born into captivity and held at the Vancouver Aquarium for all of her short life. The causes of their deaths are not known at this point, but further investigations are expected to take place.
Aurora’s death means that the aquarium now has no beluga whales. Five other belugas from the aquarium are living temporarily at various other locations across the United States as expansion plans proceed for the facility, including an expansion of the surface of the beluga tank.
Belugas can live up to the age of 60 in the wild, travelling large distances each day, hunting and playing. In captivity they have very little space and cannot behave naturally. A concrete tank can never replace their ocean home.