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.


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.


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32 Responses


    Very much missed. Such an amazing, beautiful, graceful being. We are all blessed to have been around her. I feel very sorry for the staff who worked so closely with her as well, i’m sure she was like part of your families.

    It will be very different to visit with you no longer there
    Rest in Peace

  2. Tammy

    My 3 children and I have loved coming to see the Belugas for the past 5 years, and I can remember seeing her as a child myself. Beautiful Kavna-you will be sorely missed by our family. Condolences to the wonderful aquarium staff, thank you for giving her such a lovely caring home for so many years.

  3. Shane

    I was one of the many people who got the chance to see Kavna up close in the Beluga Encounter at the aquarium and it was one of the most incredible experiences of my life. My condolences go out the staff at the aquarium. Thank you Kavna and aquarium staff for an awesome experience!

  4. Cristiana

    I got to see Kavna the first time when we arrived from Italy in 1977 at the age of 4 and just a month ago my daughter, 19 months, got to see her as well for the first time.
    We will miss you so very much, Thank You so much for the beautiful shows that you gave us and for the laughs you shared with us and I send my deepest condolences to all the staff at the aquarium.
    May you rest in peace Baby Beluga!!

  5. Christopher J. Gallagher

    Kevna’s death is a loss to us all and I will miss her and her smiles of comfort and reassurance. She truly was special and had a strength of wisdom like none other, that I believe inspired so many of us to reach for our potential and to never, never, never, never give up.

    Thank you Kevna for your inspiring love.

    Also, thank you to The Vancouver Aquarium for keeping us in the community updated.

  6. Joel and Brenda

    What a beautiful creature who brought joy to kids and adults alike. A long life deserved and now rest in peace Kavna. You were a blessing and won’t be soon forgotten.

  7. cc909

    Farewell to a beautiful friend who has had a long and happy life. Thanks to her caretakers for treating her so well.

  8. debbie

    To all the staff, volunteers and family at the aquarium, please accept my deepest sympathy for the loss of the most amazing animal. I spent many hours at the park even as a child when Skana was there. It is with great pride that I explain to friends who live far away what an amazing facility we have in our own back yard.
    Everything Kavna taught us is her legacy to future generations and she will be missed greatly.

  9. Mike & Melissa Bown

    I cannot begin to describe the sorrow we felt when we heard of the passing of Kavna. We recently enjoyed the Beluga Encounter for our anniversary. My wife had been visiting the whales since she was a girl and it was a favorite experience, thus the encounter seemed a perfect thing to do together. It was without a doubt an unbelievable life experience. We had the pleasure of having the encounter with Kavna and she touched our hearts. We had looked forward to taking our kids there for the experience next. We still plan to although there will be a sadness to see the enclosure and not see Kavna there. Please convey the love and support we have for the staff who feel the loss much greater than we do and know that Kavna did so much for the hearts of those who visited her and for the knowledge and preservation of her kind.

  10. Stacey

    Kavna was a beautiful and amazing whale. Even though I never saw her up close I was able to watch her on the beluga cam. She swam with such grace. My heart aches for her care takers as they have lost a truly and amazing whale. Her memories will always live on. Maybe oneday there will be another little baby beluga born and bring joy to the staff.

  11. Mark

    So sad to hear the news. My wife and I most recently visited the Aquarium on 16 July and enjoyed the beluga whale presentation/show very much. What matters is she lived long and under great care. She will be missed. Hope you will be able to bring some ‘new blood’ in, to help the remaining belugas overcome the loss of a friend. 🙂

  12. Jas

    So sad to hear that Kavna has gone. But kudos to the aquarium for an amazingly long beluga life in Vancouver. May her beautiful spirit ride with the clouds and stars above. RIP “Baby Beluga’.

  13. Nicki

    So very sad. Glad we got to see this beautiful creature a few weeks ago b4 this happened 🙁

  14. Stacey

    I’m sad that kavna died, I would watch her and the others on the beluga cam on the aquarium website and it was a joy to see her swinning . My thoughts and prayers are with the staff that knew kavna and worked with her for soo many years. It won’t be the same now that she is gone . May she rip and swim forever now that she’s in beluga heaven.

  15. Ana

    So very sorry for your loss! Keep the beautiful memories close and remember she was blessed to have been with the aquarium for such a wonderful life! She was loved.

  16. Terri K.

    We are so sad for your lose and feel your pain. It is so difficult to loose a member of your family. May you cherish all the many memories you had of her over the years and know that she is in Gods hands…… and close to His heart. You did good…. you did really good in caring for her and ensuring her happiness. You will see her again one day. So sorry.

  17. Melanie

    So sad to hear of Kavna’s passing. She was a beautiful creature and brought joy to many. I think it’s wonderful that she lived to such an age. I am sure she will always be remembered.

  18. Esther

    Kavna was a really special Beluga. She seemed to be content in her small tank. She knew how to make us smile. Her world seem to be enchanted. She knew how to blow bubbles and always watched us by the window. I will miss her dearly.

  19. Lisa Batstone

    Kavna thank you for being a huge part of making my childhood dream come true. Working with you was so wonderful and my heart is saddened with your passing but you lived an amazing love-filled long life @ Van Aqua. Teagan and I Love You!

  20. Stacey

    So sad. I only hope that the two remaining belugas will be well taken care of. My deepest sympathies to the staff that cared for kavna. She lived a long and happy life.

  21. Serena

    The reason it hurts so much to separate is because our souls are connected. ~Nicholas Sparks

  22. Rich Velz

    Es muy triste saber que murió Kavna. En mis 4 viajes a Vancouver era obligado ir al acuario a visitar a las belugas.

    Un abraso a todos los del acuario de vancouver que su dedicación y educación en las especies marinas es ejemplar para todos

  23. Ashley

    My fiancée and I got engaged right in front of the beluga tank in November it was such a sight, such a sad day for the aquarium, she will be greatly missed!

  24. Dorothy

    My thoughts and prayers go out to the marine mammal staff and interpreters who are grieving the loss of Kavna. I have visited the Aquarium many times and always admired her beauty and strength. She was beautiful to watch. May she rest in peace.

  25. BRenda Horton

    To all the trainers at VanAqua who loved and cared for Kavna for all these years, our thoughts and prayers go out to you all. She was a Beautiful Animal and loved by many. God Speed Kav, until we meet again.

  26. Jillian

    me and my daughter and my sister and nieces were there at the aquarium today and it was sad not seeing her in the tank with the other when we saw the 12:45 show going to miss seeing the show now with out her there it wont be the same but it was nice to see her for one more time in her hold tank rip kavna it was a pleasure watching you swimming around for most of my life going there ….

  27. James

    My wife and I got engaged in Stanley Park after our encounter visit with the Beluga’s in August 2009. I also study the history of zoos, museums, and aquariums. Here longevity is amazing even in captivity. That just proves how well she was taken care of and how comfortable she was in her environment. My thoughts and prayers go out to the caretakers and staff as I can only image the void let after caring for her nearly half a century. I am certain many visitors came away from the experience of seeing her with a new found appreciation and understanding of the beluga. As with all captive animals, she is an ambassador of her species, and she will be truly missed.

    • Jenicsaco

      Beautifully said, James.

      She was a beautiful ol’ gal, and I can’t imagine going to see the belugas with her not being there. The Wild Arctic won’t be the same without her.


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