Following a week of carefully monitored interactions, Chester, a rescued false killer whale, has now successfully integrated with Helen, a rescued Pacific white-sided dolphin, in his new permanent habitat at the Vancouver Aquarium Marine Science Centre.

“Chester settled in extremely well to his new habitat, and has been exploring the new space with the same playfulness and curiosity he has displayed throughout his rehabilitation,” said Brian Sheehan, marine mammal curator at the Aquarium. “Each interaction with Helen has been about an hour a few times a day, which allows them to habituate over time. The two animals observed each other from a distance at first and now appear to be quite interested in one another. There’s been steady progress each day as they become comfortable together, so we felt it was the right time to fully integrate them.”

Rescued cetaceans at Vancouver Aquarium

Chester and Helen can be seen interacting and exploring the Wild Coast.

Chester was found stranded as a very young calf on July 10, 2014 on Chesterman Beach in Tofino, B.C. The Vancouver Aquarium Marine Mammal Rescue Centre was called in save him. He received around the clock care at the Rescue Centre and later at Vancouver Aquarium. Against all odds, Chester survived. On May 26, 2015, he was deemed non-releasable by Fisheries and Oceans Canada noting that the animal would not survive if he was released into the wild. The Vancouver Aquarium was asked to provide a long-term home for Chester.

False killer whale rescue at Vancouver Aquarium

Chester and Helen seen together in the Wild Coast habitat on the one year anniversary of Chester’s rescue.

“Chester is an animal that was given a second chance at life. His recovery has been truly remarkable, as he beat the odds of survival and is now thriving at Vancouver Aquarium,” said Brian. “Throughout his rehabilitation, we have monitored him closely around-the-clock, observing his behaviour, movements and feeding. Now at a healthy state, we were able to transition him to the Wild Coast habitat where he has been energetically interacting with rescued Pacific white-sided dolphin, Helen.”

Under the dedicated care and supervision of Brian Sheehan and head veterinarian Dr. Martin Haulena, Chester moved to the Wild Coast habitat last week. He was introduced to Helen the following day, and since then has had numerous, periodic interactions with her where the two would swim alongside each other and interact.

Chester is adapting well to his new home in the Wild Coast habitat.

Chester is adapting well to his new home in the Wild Coast habitat.

Visitors to the Vancouver Aquarium can now view Chester and Helen at the Wild Coast habitat. “There’s been a great deal of interest from the public already,” noted Brian. “It’s clear that many people followed Chester’s story since his rescue. It’s so important to create this awareness and interest in aquatic life. Visitors have an opportunity to engage with a false killer whale and are leaving with a greater understanding of the species, our rescue and rehabilitation efforts and what they can do to further the conservation of animals in our oceans.”

The Vancouver Aquarium is a self-supporting, non-profit society and does not receive ongoing funds to provide around-the-clock care for its rescued and rehabilitated animals like Chester and Helen. You can make a difference by donating to the Rescue Centre today.

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