After living a long and healthy life, 46-year-old beluga whale Kavna passed away on Monday, August 6. Kavna was known to be the oldest beluga whale in any accredited aquarium in North America.

While our staff and volunteers are saddened at the loss, we’re left with very warm memories of her. At about 46 years of age, she was at the end of her natural life and will be greatly missed by all, including the millions of members and visitors who have connected with Canada’s Arctic in a way that would not have been made possible, had it not been for direct interactions with her at the Aquarium over the past 36 years.

Preliminary results from a necropsy of the beluga whale indicate that Kavna had lesions most consistent with cancer, although an infectious cause is a small possibility. The necropsy found widespread lesions affecting the reproductive tract as well as many other tissues. The treatment and care she had been receiving were focused on treating a reproductive disorder. We had hoped that her illness was treatable but early findings are consistent with an incurable cancer. Further tests will be conducted over the next few months.

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 natural 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 1976, are saddened by this loss but share in the many fond memories experienced with her over the past 36 years.

Kavna, who has enchanted the hearts and admiration of millions of visitors, will be greatly missed by Aquarium staff, volunteers, members and visitors.

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Update on Kavna (August 9, 2012)

Thank you to everyone for your warm messages of support. Dr. Haulena confirms that Kavna had cancer, which had originated in her uterus and had spread widely. Unfortunately, there would have been nothing we could have done to save her. She will be dearly missed by all our staff, volunteers, members and visitors from around the world.